Escaped kangaroo found safe after three days on the loose in Oshawa
Published Monday, December 4, 2023 8:22AM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 4, 2023 4:07PM EST
A kangaroo that escaped the Oshawa Zoo during a one-night stay last week has been recaptured after more than three days on the loose.
Durham police said the marsupial was successfully caught at around 6 a.m. Monday morning on Winchester Road in Oshawa, Ont., in the same area it was first spotted on Friday.
It was reported earlier that one officer sustained minor injuries while wrangling the escaped marsupial, but Sgt. Joanne Bortoluss told CP24 Monday afternoon that was not the case.
After looking through body cam footage, Bortoluss said, as the officers were trying to reassure the animal it appeared to get spooked and jumped back.
“[It] may have had some contact with the officer but there’s no injuries to the officer,” Bortoluss said, adding they were able to calm the kangaroo down until their K9 unit arrived.
The marsupial rode in the back of a police cruiser to be taken for examination by Oshawa Zoo staff, Bortoluss said.
Cameron Preyde, Oshawa Zoo’s supervisor, told CTV News the kangaroo is doing well.
“She is resting, she is warm, she is well-fed, she has got fresh water and I think she is much happier now than she was over the past few days,” Preyde said in an interview Monday.
The kangaroo, one of two that were in the process of being transferred to a zoo in Quebec, escaped handlers from the Oshawa Zoo and Fun Farm on Thursday night. It was set to spend one night at the zoo before continuing east the following morning.
However, as handlers attempted to move it from a transport truck, it 'jumped over their heads,” a zoo employee told CP24 Friday at a residential property where the animal was spotted.
The animal first garnered widespread attention when a community-run pet group, Team Chelsea, shared a video of it hopping alongside Winchester Road, just about three kilometres south of the zoo, just after 7:45 a.m. Friday morning.
It was sighted multiple times in the area over the weekend, but despite efforts by volunteers and Oshawa Zoo staff, it was able to evade capture until Monday morning.
The ministry of the Solicitor General confirmed to CTV News Toronto in a stateent that Animal Welfare Services was not involved in the recapturing of the kangaroo, however, it "is determining if a review of the situation is required."
“We have a happy ending here,” Dolf DeJong, CEO at the Toronto Zoo, told CP24 Monday morning. “[The kangaroo] is back in human care, unharmed.”
While he declined to comment on the Oshawa Zoo’s current security measures, DeJong said the incident serves as an argument for stronger regulations around wildlife facility accreditation and animal transfers.
“What you want to see is multiple layers of security in place, multiple fence lines, to make sure the animal doesn't have the opportunity to get away,” he said.
“Otherwise this type of incident can happen.”
While Preyde said the last 72 hours have been “incredibly stressful,” prompting the supervisor to lose sleep over it, this was a “one-off incident” at their zoo.
“This has never happened with us before, at our facility at least. It was a terrible situation and we are incredibly glad that it all worked out.”
In a joint statement issued Monday, the World Animal Protection Canada and the Toronto Zoo noted that the Oshawa Zoo is an unregulated wildlife facility and that, according to local by-laws, kangaroos are not permitted to be kept in unregulated facilities in the municipality.
“These recent incidents highlight the major gaps in laws and regulations of captive wildlife animals. Because there is no oversight, we have no idea where this kangaroo came from, whether the animal was transported in suitable conditions, the vaccination status of the animal, or any requirements for facilities accepting the animal, even temporarily," Michèle Hamers, Wildlife Campaign Manager for World Animal Protection Canada, said in the statement.
Unregulated wildlife facilities such as the Oshawa Zoo often do not have adequate systems and training in place to protect their animals, according to DeJong. Both DeJong and Hamers urged the Ontario government to enforce and strengthen existing regulations to “truly protect exotic animals currently in unaccredited roadside zoos and private ownership.”
“This is the right thing to do to improve the quality of care for these animals and in the interest of public health and safety,” DeJong said.
In Ontario, it’s largely up to municipalities to regulate roadside zoos, and, according to the statement, only half of the municipalities in the province have relevant regulations.
With files from Beth Macdonell