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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Not the Outback but Kent! Wallaby caught on video hopping across field towards a very bemused teacher walking her dog

-Alex Pooley 'amazed' when Australian icon bounced towards her in Pluckley

By Graham Smith

A teacher taking her dog for a walk through a Kent field was left shocked when a wild wallaby bounded towards her.

Alex Pooley was 'amazed' to see the marsupial, which is native to Australia, hopping through the countryside.

The 29-year-old recorded the extraordinary event in rural Pluckley on her mobile phone.

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Close encounter: Alex Pooley was 'amazed' to see a wallaby, which is native to Australia, hopping through the countryside near Pluckley, Kent, while walking her dog

In the brief clip, Miss Pooley and her two-year-old golden retriever Shackleton watch the wallaby as it comes towards them.

She instructs her curious dog to 'Wait' and says hello to the wallaby as it gets within several feet of her.

But Shackleton then darts after the Australian icon while Miss Pooley calls the dog back, saying: 'No, leave it.'

The wallaby is believed to be Wesley, the same animal that has baffled nature experts by apparently living wild in the area for the last eight years.

The marsupial escaped from a farm in 2004 and is believed to have been living in the wild ever since.

Far from being intimidated by humans, the friendly wallaby appears fascinated by the dog walker and her pet in the video.

Miss Pooley said today: 'We were in a field near the train station and I saw what I thought was a giant hare, but then it moved and started hopping.

'I was a bit surprised to say the least and the dog was off the lead at the time.

'I saw it hopping down the path towards us - it seemed pretty friendly and quite intrigued because it came right up to us.'

Playful: Miss Poole was unable to stop her curious dog Shackleton from darting after the Australian icon

On the loose: Wallabies have previously been spotted in Devon and East Sussex and in March a wild wallaby died after being hit by a car in Sheppey, Kent

There has been four reported wallaby sightings in the Pluckley area over the last four years.

In 2009, a wallaby was spotted in Pluckley by a family who were on a ghost hunting trip at the time. The same year, a motorist encountered a wallaby crossing the road.

In September 2008, a wallaby - also believed to be Wesley - was spotted in the nearby town of Stubbs Cross.

Wallabies have previously also been spotted in Devon and East Sussex. In March this year a wild wallaby died after being hit by a car in Sheppey, Kent.

On farms and in fields and gardens across the countryside, the small marsupials are increasingly taking the place of sheep, pigs and horses as low-maintenance lawnmowers.

As herbivores who spend most of their days eating grass, wallabies are the perfect animal for anybody with a bit of grassy land that needs clipping.

Although in their native Australia some species can grow to a height of 6ft, most are around 2ft to 3ft tall and have a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years.



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