26/07/2012 17:19 BST | Updated 26/07/2012 18:09 BST

Student Prank Behind Escaped Wallaby Police Alert

A student prank is believed to be behind an unusual police request for help.

Officers in Gloucestershire had asked motorists to keep an eye out for a wallaby or kangaroo, after the fugitive marsupial was spotted next to the A40 near Highnam earlier this week.

Questions were unsurprisingly asked over where the animal - native to Australia - had escaped from. It's since emerged that "high jinks" at a student summer ball was the likely cause.

Luke Rake, vice principal at Hartpury College in Gloucester, admitted some of its pupils were thought to be responsible.

He said: "As part of our commitment to student experience we are always expanding our animal collection.

"As part of this on-going process we acquired three wallabies from Marwell Zoo, who arrived at the college on 1 June.

"The wallabies were kept in a temporary enclosure as we finalised their permanent home, and during the weekend of the summer ball we discovered that the gate to enclosure had been opened and the wallabies had escaped.

"We caught the two females within a short space of time but the male has been extremely elusive.

"We informed RSPCA, local police and Defra at the time. We suspect high jinks on the part of students rather than a malicious act.

"Due to the behaviour of wallabies who are active during twilight periods, and lie low during the day, sightings have been few and far between, but we have been acting on information as it comes in to try and recover him. He is in no immediate danger."

A Gloucestershire Police spokesman said officers had been contacted by Hartpury College soon after the wallaby's escape was discovered.

He said: "This is a very unusual situation."


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