October 27, 2020

A Kangaroo Got Loose in Florida. Now Its Owner May Face Charges.

MIAMI — Last week, a kangaroo bounded out of a backyard in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and hopped for about three blocks with the police in pursuit. Now its owner may be charged for allowing the animal to escape and for not having the records to show how he acquired it, the authorities said Tuesday.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has recommended that Anthony Macias, 24, of Fort Lauderdale, be charged with two second-degree misdemeanors, said Carol Lyn Parrish, a spokeswoman for the agency. Mr. Macias may also face a noncriminal infraction for not having a license to possess the kangaroo, she added.

Paula McMahon, a spokeswoman for the Broward State Attorney’s Office, said prosecutors would review the case against Mr. Macias once the state wildlife commission presented it to them. The misdemeanor charges each carry a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine, she said.

Steven A. Schaet, the lawyer representing Mr. Macias, said that “we will do what we need to rectify the situation.”

“He would like to get the kangaroo back if possible,” Mr. Schaet said.

Mr. Macias said in an interview on Tuesday that the kangaroo, named Jack, bounced out of his backyard north of downtown Fort Lauderdale on July 16 after he left the side gate open. He said he acquired the kangaroo about three months ago, but declined to say how.

“I was in a rush to take out the recycling bin to get to work and I didn’t shut the gate all the way,’’ said Mr. Macias, a septic tank technician. “He decided to wander around the neighborhood.”

People called 911 to report the unusual sight of a kangaroo hopping through their neighborhood.

“I’m trying to catch a kangaroo,” a police officer says in body camera footage released by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. The video shows officers as they followed the marsupial, then peacefully corralled him and placed him in the back of a squad car about 25 minutes after the first call came in.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel published a photograph of the kangaroo staring out from a stall in a stable where the Police Department’s mounted unit keeps its horses. The animal remained there until state wildlife officials picked him up.

“The kangaroo has been transferred to a permitted facility until a permanent placement location can be determined” by the state wildlife commission, Ms. Parrish said. She declined to say where that is.

Kangaroos may be kept as pets in Florida as long as their owners have the proper permits, she said. However, Fort Lauderdale does not allow “exotic animals” to be kept within its city limits, the police said.

Mr. Macias, who also owns a Corgi, described Jack as friendly and welcoming to people.

“Anytime he meets somebody new, he gives them a hug,” he said, adding that the kangaroo likes potatoes, apples and bananas.

Mr. Macias said that he was trying to get the kangaroo back, and that he may have to move so he can keep Jack legally. He has started a GoFundMe page asking for help.

“It’s a long shot,” he said, “but you miss 100 percent of the shots that you don’t take.”