Oshawa’s great kangaroo mystery: Hunt underway for marsupial no one says is missing

Click to play video: 'Videos appear to show escaped kangaroo in Oshawa, Ont.'
Videos appear to show escaped kangaroo in Oshawa, Ont.
WATCH: A search is underway in Oshawa, Ont., after some said they spotted a kangaroo by the side of the road. Local police say they're aware of the reports but haven't found the marsupial themselves, while zoos in the area told Global News all their animals were accounted for. Multiple videos posted to social media appear to show what looks to be a kangaroo by the side of the road in Oshawa Friday. – Dec 1, 2023

Locals in Oshawa, Ont., have been left searching for answers and marsupials after a kangaroo appeared to have been spotted in the city.

A local pet search group shared a video on Friday morning, suggesting a Kangaroo had been seen on Winchester Road in Oshawa just before 8 a.m.

The video posted by pet group, Team Chelsea, was one of several apparent sightings of the Australian animal.

Another video submitted by a viewer to Global News shows what appears to be a kangaroo standing at the end of a driveway. The five-second video is shot from a passenger side window. The viewer said they saw the animal on a driveway near Winchester Road East and Harmony Road North.

Police confirmed to Global News they had been called to the area to look for a kangaroo but said they had not found one.

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“Members attended the scene but were not able to locate the animal and cleared the scene,” Durham Regional Police said.

Another video, about 10 seconds long and also taken in a vehicle, that was posted online shows the kangaroo hopping along the grass line beside the road.

Paul Rellinger said he was in the car with his son around 7:30 a.m. heading east on Winchester when he saw an animal run into a ditch on the side of the road.

“It got up and started to not run along the roadway, it started hopping,” he said.

Then Rellinger said he realized, “It is hopping, that’s a kangaroo, or a wallaby or something similar.”

Residents told not to try and catch the kangaroo

In a post on social media, Team Chelsea said not to try and catch the kangaroo, but to call their team to report the sighting and try to, safely, keep it within sight.

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Durham police echoed the advice, telling anyone who sees a kangaroo in Oshawa not to try and interact with it.

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“If you see the kangaroo, do not approach. Please call Team Chelsea 905-666-4676,” police told Global News.

Camille Labchuk, a lawyer and the executive director of Animal Justice, said a precedent-setting court ruling decided that finding an escaped wild animal in the province gives you custody of it.

“The law in Ontario is that if a wild animal by nature escapes from captivity, that animal becomes the property of whoever seizes the animal,” she told Global News. “I am just hopeful it will be either authorities or a compassionate person who is able to take that animal into a sanctuary, into proper care.”

Zoos say all kangaroos accounted for

Despite the sudden surge in Oshawa kangaroo sightings, local zoos told Global News all of their marsupials were accounted for on Friday.

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Oshawa Zoo said they did not believe any kangaroo spotted by residents belonged to them. The zoo is closed for the winter, set to reopen in 2024.

Later in the day, Durham Regional Police said they “haven’t confirmed at this point who actually owns it.”

Police said they did not believe the kangaroo was an exotic pet.

Durham police added that, while they had no involvement in the hunt for the kangaroo, a driver was delivering two kangaroos to Quebec on Thursday and stopped at Oshawa Zoo to let them “stretch their legs.”

During the stop, however, “one of the kangaroos managed to escape and has been sighted multiple times today.”

Toronto Zoo said none of its animals have been reported missing.

Another wildlife space to the east of Toronto — Jungle Cat World Wildlife Park — said it had two kangaroos but both were accounted for.

Dolf DeJong, CEO at the Toronto Zoo, said there was a “long list of ways” a kangaroo could end up on the loose in Oshawa.

No Ontario rules against pet kangaroos

Both DeJong and Labchuk pointed to Ontario’s exotic wildlife laws as part of the potential issue.

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They said it is too easy in their view to own all sorts of animals in the province, with only pit bull and orca ownership forbidden for private citizens.

“That’s left municipalities to make up their own bylaws,” Labchuk said.

The City of Oshawa told Global News that “kangaroos, wallabies and similar marsupials” are not allowed under its local rules.

“Sometimes very well-meaning people, people who love these individual animals, may or may not be qualified to care for them — and that’s something we talk about frequently,” DeJong said.

“Generally these are the types of animals we’re not looking to see in people’s private care and certainly not in urban, residential areas.

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