Missing from a St-Lazare farm since Sunday, a kangaroo was back home on Monday evening, enjoying a muffin and a nap.
Local residents had spent the day searching the woods and trails surrounding a Ste-Angelique Rd. property for the two-and-a-half-foot-tall red kangaroo. Mirka, the one-year-old kangaroo, was unharmed but seemed happy to be home on Monday, farm owner and exotic animal keeper Luc Lefebvre said.
“She’s perfect — she ate well and rested well.”
“As soon as I was holding her in my hands she started licking me,” he said.
She was spotted on Monday at around 5:30 p.m. in a neighbour’s backyard near Lefebvre’s farm, he said.
Lefebvre guessed that Mirka, who had been scared by a loud truck earlier on Sunday, had escaped through an open gate.
The St-Lazare resident has been training Mirka to work as a therapy animal for children for about three months. Mirka, who is not yet fully grown, came to St-Lazare from a zoo in Ontario.
Lefebvre runs Murmurs d’animaux, a practice offering animal-assisted therapy to children. The kangaroo is one of the most recent tenants on his large, rural property, which is also home to horses, camels, alpacas, deer, donkeys and one zebra. Murmurs d’animaux.
He said he has recently partnered with three local schools in the Lester B. Pearson School Board to begin offering animal therapy in November to children who, because of disability, anxiety or other issues, have difficulty interacting with people.
Pairing children with an animal can help therapists to “open a connection” with the child, he explained. The program will include 12 children and run until May 2015, he said.
Mirka is friendly and accustomed to people, and was specifically chosen for the program as an animal who will work well with children.
“Contrary to popular belief, kangaroos are very, very docile creatures,” Lefebvre said.
Marilyn Embom, a Ste-Genevieve resident who boards horses in St-Lazare, was one of several people who arrived at Lefebvre’s farm on Monday morning to search for the kangaroo.
While trudging through mud and a haze of mosquitos on a trail behind Lefebvre’s property, it occurred to Embom’s impromptu search party of one — plus a journalist — that, even if the creature could be located, no one was entirely sure how to wrangle a kangaroo.
After some discussion, Embom concluded that a game-time decision would be made if the animal were located.
Embom intended to return to the search on horseback later in the afternoon, but Mirka returned home safely before the kangaroo capture question had to be resolved.