PERU, Ill. – A wallaroo led police in Illinois on a chase for two hours Wednesday and was miraculously captured by a passing fishing boat after it jumped into a frigid, fast-moving river.
Police, firefighters, neighbors and a couple of fishermen worked to capture Wally, a marsupial smaller than a kangaroo but larger than a wallaby, WLS-TV reported.
“It would be very difficult to explain how this crazy adventure affected so many people and how all of the police, fire, city employees and so many citizens were cheering for a rescue before it was too late,” Peru police Chief Doug Bernabei said on social media. “With only seconds to spare the rescue was made.”
Calls started pouring into 911 operators around 1:15 p.m. after drivers reported a wallaby hopping along Route 6 in the city’s business district and later on busy Route 251. Police closed roads to ensure the animal’s safety.
The animal continued its travels, wandering to river bottoms before jumping into the frigid and fast-moving Illinois River.
“Without warning Wally jumped into the river and attempted to swim across from the north shore to the south shore,” police said.
A passing fishing boat helped snare Wally. City employees went into the water to get Wally from the boat. He was then taken by police to a veterinarian for evaluation. He is expected to be OK.
“He was so cold we couldn’t register his temperature on the thermometer. We warmed him up. We dried him off,” Dr. Allison Spayer, of Bridgeview Animal Hospital, told WLS. “We have never had a wallaby, a kangaroo, a wallaroo — any of those types of animals at our office. It was definitely a team effort.”
Police said Wally is lawfully owned and properly permitted. Although it is still unclear how he escaped.
“Today is probably the best day of the year so far,” Bernabei, told WLS. “There was a lot of people cheering then, it was a neat thing to get him out of the river and get him to a warm place and get him treated.”
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