Wallabies on the loose in NL; people urged to keep distance

A large number of wallabies have escaped from their enclosures in several locations across the Netherlands, provoking concern from the nonprofit organization Animal Advocacy and Protection (AAP).

The marsupials, originally from Australia, had been kept primarily in private enclosures and petting zoos. Many of the escaped animals were reported to be roaming around villages in the provinces of Zeeland, Drenthe, Limburg, Noord-Holland and Noord-Brabant, NU.nl reports, where they have been seen grazing on vegetation.

"In principle, a wallaby can live in the Netherlands, it depends on the season. They are plant eaters so they have enough to eat here. Only the traffic is very risky and we are concerned. They are heavy animals so if you hit one it would do a lot of damage to your car," a spokesperson from AAP explained to NL Times on Monday.

"This only happens once every few years," they added.

While the wallabies are not reported to have caused any damage or harm, the police have had their hands full in the past two weeks trying to track down the animals. According to AAP, if encountered, the wallabies will likely attempt to flee from humans, and people are not advised to try to catch the animals themselves.

"They are not known to be dangerous, not like the giant kangaroo, for example. They are very afraid of people and do not like contact with people. So we would say always keep your distance because they do have sharp nails, never provoke it, don't try to catch them yourself. They would probably flee in such a situation and they are much faster than humans."

According to AAP, when found, the wallabies are tended to before being transferred to a more suitable location.

"We will first test for injuries or illnesses and then we will see if we can move him to, for example, an animal park or Safari park, with us he can not stay all his life so we look for an animal park where there is enough space for him,” explained AAP's spokesperson.