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A40 wallaby riddle solved - Hartpury student ball pranksters

By The Citizen  |  Posted: July 26, 2012

ON THE PROWL: Our man Crispin Northey with wildlife expert Frank Tunbridge in Highnam Woods.

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STREWTH! A wandering wallaby escaped from a college campus on the night of the student ball.

Sightings of the marsupial near the A40 at Highnam were reported to police, but The Citizen can reveal it was set free from Hartpury College.

Hopping mad officials at the college confirmed they reported one missing nearly two months ago after, on the night of the student ball, someone set the three animals loose.

Hartpury vice-principal Luke Rake, said: "We were in the process of developing our animals collection including acquiring the three wallabies when they were set loose. We think it was student hi jinks which led to them being deliberately freed. We managed to round up the two females but not the male."

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He said they only acquired the creatures from Marwell Zoo on June 1, and they were set free on June 4 for their animal care courses.

The Citizen went out to Highnam Woods yesterday to see if we could track the animal. Wildlife enthusiast Frank Tunbridge joined me and said wallabies are "born survivors".


"They only come out at twilight and survive on the trees and plants around them," he said. "Interestingly, one member of the species is able to locate another from a great distance in order to meet up and mate."

However, members of the public are asked not venture out to help capture the wallaby.

Mr Rake, who said it made sense that the animal had got as far as Highnam, added: "We ask members of the public not to approach him. He is harmless but when approached will simply run away."

The college reported the great escape to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and RSPCA. Diane Roberts, of Defra, said: "Hartpury called and asked if we had any darting experts to assist. Unfortunately we had no-one with the expertise."

The story of the roaming wallaby has caught the imagination of many media outlets, including those in its native land of Australia. Melbourne-based newspaper Herald Sun reported: "Sightings of a wallaby or kangaroo in an English county have police and locals baffled."

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  • zalapompadoo  |  July 27 2012, 10:35AM

    i hope skippy is found safe and well and as for the broght young things who thought it was a funny thing to do GROW UP you are in the real world now

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  • spindles12  |  July 26 2012, 10:55PM

    Kay-Powell, "Frank Tunbridge - or someone purporting to be him - has had a letter published in today's Citizen if anyone is interested. It's about bunny-wabbits. I think that he's finally lost the plot." There was another bunny story printed some while ago that was from him. Perhaps I'll write one:- Once upon a time there were some rabbits that lived on a roundabout. One day a fierce pantherpuma crept out from one of it's lairs in Hempsted/Stroud/Brockworth/Cheltenham/Podsmead or Robinswood Hill. It was big, at least the size of a large dog but could also look like a domestic cat and was light brown but sometimes looked black. It jumped onto the roundabout, chased the rabbits and caught some. It chewed off their legs and left the rest for the foxes. Although the ground was wet it left no footprints or clues that it had been there and it crept back to its lair without anyone seeing it and hasn't been seen since.

  • LuceilleP  |  July 26 2012, 5:51PM

    Those wallabies have probably had a lucky escape if Hartpury is still as shoddy as they used to be. When I studied there, the exotic animals were neglected and lecturers didn't know there ass from there elbow. Also wondering how keeping a wallaby at the college is going to help a student get a career in animal care.

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  • bonzaharris1  |  July 26 2012, 5:08PM

    Irresponsible idiots, lets hope skippy doesn't hop into the path of a car and kill or injure someone.

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  • gallopingbear  |  July 26 2012, 2:46PM

    Jewbacca, I just spent a few minutes laughing at your comment. There are so many strange, exotic beasts around Gloucestershire. I wonder, does anybody know the origins of the mysterious being that is Frank Tunbridge? One day he just appeared as Glosmedia's resident 'expert' on all things mysterious with My favourite ever Tunbridgeage: "It could have been a large cat, or a medium sized dog..."

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  • ALChelt  |  July 26 2012, 2:45PM

    Panthers lurking around every Gloucestershire corner,wallabies leaping about without a care wild boar terrorising the forest and yes...thats a flying pig just passed by my window or by the deposite on my car it maybe Dumbo. And good old Frank the wildlife expert leaps to TIGs defence again...as he ever actually seen any wildlife other than on Google?

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  • BenefitsRUs1  |  July 26 2012, 1:08PM

    If someone had let my kangaroo loose I would be hopping mad!!

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  • Jewbacca  |  July 26 2012, 10:04AM

    I'm waiting for him to warn us it has mated with a panther, he saw the baby Wallather with his own eyes (they were as bit as saucers), but unfortunately he didn't have his camera :(

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  • gallopingbear  |  July 26 2012, 9:56AM

    Ha ha. My favourite story ever. It has everything in it: mystery, adventure, witty puns and Frank Tunbridge. It will be a glos media classic.

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  • Matt1006  |  July 26 2012, 9:12AM

    So a wallaby was set free from Hartpury 2 months ago (and was reported, although it appears no to the police), and nobody thought to make the connection when the reported sightings on the A40 at Highnam were first made? Still, a chance for Our Frank to get his picture in the paper / online, again. Nice pose with the binoculars. Is his left hand going up to protect himself from the large black cat lunging at him, just out of shot...???

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