A rare white kangaroo-like animal, believed to be a wallaby, spotted hopping around a field near Northampton probably escaped from a private collection or a zoo, a mammal expert has said.
Caroline Phillips was with her friend Florence in a field near Salcey Forest on Friday when she saw what is believed to be a Bennett’s wallaby, well known for their white fur.
Ms Phillips, who comes from Australia, said: “The field is a hill of more than 16 acres, the “white thing” was at the very furthest point.
“I walked towards it for ages and had still thought it was probably a bit of plastic stuck on the hedge.
“Florence was adamant it was a Kangaroo, I was sure it wasn’t. I come from Australia where most Australians don’t see Kangaroos in the wild so it was not likely to happen in England was it? Especially a rare white one.
“I decided to go back to the stables and get my phone and my husband. In Australia, when someone’s sanity is in question there is a saying.. “They’ve got Kangaroos in the top paddock” My husband always thought I did.
“We headed back with our phones and the “white thing” was still in the same place - surely a bit of plastic. We walked towards it and when we got close enough we could see it was an animal of some sort, I still didn’t think I was going to find a Kangaroo. Then it hopped away.”
Ms Phillips said she has since been told that there have been sightings of wallabies in the area, but white-coloured ones are very rare.
Michael Wells, who records sightings of wallabies for The Mammal Society, said it was very unusual to see a Bennett’s wallaby and he was only aware of one previous sighting in the area.
He said: “The only other white wallaby that has been seen was at Stoke Mandeville Station. Most of the wallabies in this country were brought over by private collectors or placed in zoos.
“Sometimes the private collectors find they cannot look after them anymore and release them into the wild.”
Mr Wells said the Bennett’s wallabies, which eat grass, roots and leaves, could survive in the wild but, due to their distinctive colour, were an easy target for predators.
In January 2007, the Chron revealed how a motorist spotted a wallaby sitting by the side of the road at Maidford, near Towcester.
These were followed by reports of a number of other sightings in Northamptonshire. Previous sightings have happened in Duston and in a back garden in Kettering Road, Northampton.