NEW YORK (PIX11) – A wallaby that was rescued by the NYPD from a man on the Coney Island boardwalk last week is settling into her temporary home on Long Island at the Save The Animals Rescue (STAR) Foundation, and activists say she has traveled more than she should have.
Native to Australia, the wallaby was first spotted in Washington Square Park in Manhattan when her previous owner was charging people money to take pictures with her.
John Di Leonardo is an anthrozoologist and executive director of Humane Long Island, which helped locate the wallaby.
“Humane Long Island reached out to the NYPD and set up patrols in Washington Square Park,” Di Leonardo said. “We also found the wallaby had been spotted in Coney Island numerous times in the weeks prior, so we set up a patrol out there.”
Soon enough, the wallaby was found on the Coney Island boardwalk and was rescued by the NYPD’s Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad. Her previous owner was issued a summons for possession of a wild animal. He also had a parrot in his possession.
“Wallabies are not pets,” Di Leonardo said. “They’re not props. They’re wild animals. They don’t belong in a cramped bag on a New York City boardwalk. They belong in Australia. I mean, this is a baby joey. She belongs with her mother in the wilds of Australia.”
The wallaby is now being taken care of at the STAR Foundation in Suffolk County. Lori Ketcham is the director.
“We didn’t know what we were getting because they didn’t know how old [she is], how big [she is], what the personality was, so we just rolled with it,” Ketcham said.
They ended up getting a sweet animal who, during PIX11’s visit, kept trying to get into the food bin. They believe she’s around a year old.
Also in their care is a fawn, multiple owls, a guinea pig family, a baby squirrel, and many more types of wildlife.
If the court determines they can keep the wallaby, they already have a plan in place on their acres of land.
“We’ll put up a nice big pen that’s big enough to accommodate others if they come along and a heated enclosure,” Ketcham added.
As the organization continues to care for the wallaby and the other wildlife animals, they say donations and people are needed to care for the facility.
If you are interested in helping, check out their website here.