Although the animal of less than a meter in height has been spotted repeatedly in a park near the sea and on the beach, nobody has managed to catch the wily marsupial who is evidently enjoying his seaside retreat. The reason for this, reportedly, is his mind-boggling speed and agility.
The mini-zoo "Atomi", which is only in its second season, is about five kilometers from the center of Liepāja. On the evening of July 2, perhaps as a result of careless behavior by visitors, namely by meddling with the gate lock, Sidnejs saw his chance and hopped off into the wild.
His mother, with a name as surprising as the fugitive's own, Austrālija (Australia), also got through the fence but was not quick enough to completely escape the zoo territory. Sidnejs, however, was unfazed even when he was nearly hit by a car, the driver of which could probably be forgiven for rubbing his eyes in cinematic fashion.
Meanwhile the errant Aussie headed straight down the highway toward Liepāja, occasionally jumping over obstacles like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, though of course Sidnejs was not on a motorcycle.
“Atomi” spokeswoman Elīna Rūja said:
“He's still young and very fast. Sidnejs is very curious. He likes to explore everything: who are you, what are you doing? The lesson is great. We know we need to be more serious with gates because we had no experience at all.”
Over the weekend, residents have been actively playing the game of Wallaby GO and reporting places in the town where Sidnejs was seen, but he was nowhere to be found when the zoo representatives arrived in order to convene a kangaroo court and take him home.
Veterinarian Dzintars Tīds said: “Such a kangaroo eats both grass and branch leaves, well, in any case, the nature of July at moment in Latvia is not such a terrible thing for this Australian beast. It seems to him that so far surviving here in Latvia would not be difficult. The bad news is that he will most likely not take into account that we have dogs, that we have cars, people, noises.”
People are invited to report and even follow him as he continues his Aussie Odyssey, but the zoo representative and the veterinarian warned that no effort should be made to restrain him as, like all high-profile fugitives on the lam he could become dangerous if cornered.
The vet said: “Any animal that has been driven into a corner will become aggressive. If he has to fight for his life, he will do everything to save himself. For one person to catch him, hold him, it's not realistic."
People are invited to report the jail runner to the zoo “Atomi” by phone number 25560040 or to Liepāja municipal police.
This is not the first time Latvia has been gripped by escaped wallaby fever. Back in 2018 a mystery marsupial appeared in an orchard. Meanwhile one of our most popular stories this year concerned the sleeping habits of kangaroos.