Kangaroo ran loose in Baton Rouge area after parrot set it free; owners will have to give it up
ZACHARY - Baxter the kangaroo is safe after he spent a day running loose in East Baton Rouge, but law enforcement says the marsupial will need to find a new home after the escape.
Officials with East Baton Rouge Animal Control told WBRZ on Friday that Baxter's owners, who previously owned a zoo and now operate a non-profit, will have to give him up since it's illegal to keep a kangaroo as a pet in the parish.
"Exotic animals, pets you can't have any that are non native to United States. Any animal not native to the united states, anything venomous, you can not have in East Baton Rouge Parish," Daniel Piatkiewicz, Director of Animal Control & Rescue Center, said.
There are exceptions to the ordinance, including educational purposes, zoos, and circuses.
"I've never seen a permit issued in this parish, and I don't think we'll start now. I don't think we need to open that door," Piatkiewicz, said.
The owners have a week to find Baxter a new home, or they face fines.
"We can charge them, we can give them a misdemeanor sum or we can get them a temporary restraining order from a court and take the route through the court system," Piatkiewicz, said.
Baxter's owners tell WBRZ they have been trying to get a permit, and will continue to do so, so they can keep Baxter.
People who spotted the joey hopping along highways in Zachary said they were in disbelief.
"We saw it, and we very shocked," Braden Nelson said.
Braden and Ethan Nelson were driving down Port Hudson Pride Road around late Wednesday morning when they noticed something race by in a drainage ditch.
"He said, 'there's a kangaroo on the side of the road!' I was like what are you talking about? I turn around, and sure enough, there was a kangaroo," Ethan said.
The brothers say they first thought it was a dog until they realized it only had two legs.
"He was going fast, just hopping in the ditch. He was gone within 30 seconds," Braden said.
Where did the kangaroo come from? Not too far from where they spotted him.
Baxter lives with more than a dozen parrots being taken care of by the owners of a non-profit specializing in releasing wild birds into their natural habitats called Bird Recovery International.
The owners say Baxter's bird brother, Thor, recently figured out how to open the door to the enclosure.
What was Thor's response to the allegations?
"Birds don't talk."
Baxter was spotted by law enforcement hours after Thor released him. An East Baton Rouge sheriff's deputy was able to draw him close with peanut butter until the owners picked him up near Machost Road.
His owners are beyond thankful Baxter is safe. They went into a panic as soon as they realized he was missing.
Everyone else was still in shock over what they saw.
"I slowed down. There was no one else on the road, and we just watched it for a little while until it went into the woods," Braden said.
While you can buy a kangaroo from a breeder here in Louisiana, Wildlife and Fisheries says it is illegal to keep an exotic animal as a pet here. Each parish is different. Look up local laws here.