Kanga missing

theft suspected

Wallaby was popular attraction at petting farm in Davidsonville

November 17, 1999|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Missing: A 4-year-old female, 2 feet tall and 40 pounds. Brown and gray hair. White-tipped tail. The name is Kanga, although it isn't exactly. It's a Bennett wallaby, and said to be one of the most popular animals at a Davidsonville petting farm.

It's been nine days since anyone is known to have seen the marsupial -- one of two wallabies at the NEWARCC Petting Farm -- and its owner suspects foul play.

Debbie Collison, who runs the private, nonprofit operation on her family's former dairy farm, learned that Kanga was missing when she and her husband returned Saturday from a vacation.

"I've just been heartsick ever since I was told," she said. "All the animals are raised as part of the family." The disappearance -- coming a month after a mysterious injury to Beebe, the farm's other wallaby -- was reported to Anne Arundel County police Monday.

Collison said the wallabies, which are small kangaroos, are favorites with children who visit the farm at the end of a mile-long drive off Governor's Bridge Road. "Kanga and Beebe would come right up to the fence and sometimes take a carrot or an apple from me," Collison said.

"Most of the people here think that she was taken," she said. "We don't know why she was taken, but we also don't know why people kidnap other people's children."

Collison founded NEWARCC (the National Endangered Wild Animal Research and

Conservation Center) a decade ago -- to encourage animal preservation, she said. The petting farm has more than 100 animals, she said, including five pot-bellied pigs and a not-so-petable cougar and pair of Siberian tigers.

She said she bought Kanga for $2,000 in April 1996 from a breeder on the Eastern Shore. The wallaby was eight months old then, and weighed five pounds. Collison said she raised Kanga in her house, then moved it to an adjacent area outside, enclosed by a 6-foot fence.

"We've talked to several wallaby breeders and they said there's absolutely no way a tame wallaby could go over a six-foot fence," Collison said.

In addition to Kanga's disappearance, Collison is upset by the serious injury suffered by the two-year-old Beebe Oct. 17.

She found the animal in the morning with a 10-inch flap of skin torn from knee to foot. A veterinarian was able to stitch the tear.

"She's doing good," Collison said. "She's healing, but she'll have a nice scar."

The Collisons asked that anyone who may have seen Kanga call the NEWARCC Petting Farm at 410-798-0206.

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