The owner of a kangaroo that escaped from a backyard enclosure said the animal is back home safely on their farm in Flora after a 5-mile trek around Madison and northern parts of Ridgeland on Tuesday.
“He was exhausted,” said Dr. Alyssa Killebrew, the kangaroo’s owner. “He had quite an adventure. He went all through fields and woods and residential areas. Our best guess is he probably hopped 5 miles.”
The kangaroo named Rocky is 2 years old, and Killebrew, a child psychologist, said that Rocky has been a part of their family for about a year now and sometimes sees service in the youth therapy retreats she and her husband hold at their farm in Flora.
Killebrew said the kangaroo got loose on Tuesday after a child visited and did not secure the enclosure at their home in a neighborhood off of Lake Castle Road.
Killebrew, who is seven months pregnant, left her daughter, Vivian, at the house with a relative and grabbed their nanny got in the car.
“I chased him the best I could,” Killebrew said. “I just couldn’t get it out of my mind how bad I would feel if there was an accident and someone was hurt or if he got hurt.”
Killebrew said Rocky got out at approximately 4 p.m. and did not make it back until later that evening and hopped back to his enclosure in the backyard on his own. However, Madison police and animal control were called to respond.
Madison Police Capt. Kevin Newman said police first received a call about the kangaroo around 4:55 p.m. on Tuesday.
“We received a call from a resident that a kangaroo was running loose on Berry Lane,” Newman said.
At approximately the same time, MPD had officers in the area of the interstate assisting the Ridgeland Police Department with an unrelated traffic stop.
“Some of our officers saw the kangaroo near the Interstate and Frontage Road,” Newman said. “A few unsuccessful attempts were made to corral it. It eventually did return to its original location with the owner on Berry Lane a short time later.”
Nick Walters of Ridgeland said he saw the kangaroo in the area just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday after he arrived back in town from a business trip to Georgia.
Walters said he had just taken a left turn off the frontage road onto Lake Castle Road on his way to Kroger when he saw what appeared to be a kangaroo headed the other way.
He said he first slowed down and turned around to see the animal when he saw a bunch of cars behind him with arms holding cell phones out of the windows.
He said he then saw the animal disappear “north into the woods.”
Walters said he was too stunned to get a picture of his own, but his first call was to his wife, Lisa Walters, who works for the city of Ridgeland.
“He said, ‘Look, if you get any crazy calls about a kangaroo, they are true,’” Lisa said.
Newman said a follow-up by the Animal Control Officer determined the kangaroo had been at the residence on Berry Lane temporarily while it was to visit a veterinarian for a health issue.
“It was returned/transported to its permanent home in the Flora area the next day,” Newman said.
Killebrew said Rocky was at the house following extensive dental surgery, after which he required medication and regular application of ointments but is happy to be back in Flora.
Killebrew and her husband, Keath G. Killebrew, found Rocky around this time last year after losing a child during pregnancy due to complications related to COVID-19.
She said the incident brought them to a grief retreat called Golden Willow in New Mexico.
Killebrew said the experience, along with her experience as a child psychologist through her company Essential Touchstones inspired them to start their own “experiential therapeutic” week-long retreat aimed at adolescents on their farm in Flora.
They named the retreat after the child they lost, Sarah Elizabeth Killebrew, using her initials SEK. The program is pronounced “seek,” which has several meanings but is ultimately rooted in the passage from Matthew 7:7, “Seek and you shall find.”
The retreat has about 24 spots for children ages 13 to 18. The Killebrews had a ropes course installed on their property and yurts to accommodate the guests who are fed farm-to-table meals. In addition, they offer activities such as equine therapy, yoga and art.
After their retreat to Golden Willow, Killebrew said that they found Rocky at an exotic animals sale in Carthage.
“We raised him and worked with him like any other pet,” Killebrew said.
She described Rocky as “gentle” and said he works well with the children who get to pet and feed him.
“He is so gentle and has been great with our daughter,” Killebrew said. “He is her baby.”
On the farm, Rocky has found his place in the ecosystem of animals. Killebrew said he is great with dogs and chickens but prefers to stay away from the sheep.
“He doesn’t like the ‘baa’ sound they make,” Killebrew said.
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