Wallaby hops across Sydney Harbor Bridge, captured uninjured

In this image released by Taronga Zoo Conservation Society, Dr. Larry Vogelnest, senior veterinarian at Taronga Zoo, checks a wallaby is checked at Taronga Wildlife Hospital in Sydney Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. The wallaby disrupted downtown traffic by bounding across the Sydney Harbor Bridge on Tuesday with police in pursuit. The adult male was captured without any apparent serious injury and is expected to be released back into the wild within days. (Taronga Zoo Conservation Society via AP)

SYDNEY — A wayward wallaby disrupted downtown traffic by bounding across the Sydney Harbor Bridge on Tuesday with police in pursuit.

The adult male was captured without any apparent serious injury and is expected to be released back into the wild within days.

Swamp wallabies, which are smaller marsupials than their kangaroo cousins, are common across eastern Australia, but are rarely seen in cities.

The startled wallaby hopped across the bridge's eight lanes of traffic an hour before sunrise then turned onto an expressway on the harbor's southern shore toward the Sydney Opera House. A pursuing police car with flashing lights videoed the animal's steady bounding before police officers captured him near the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and wrangled him into a horse float, police said.

Veterinarian Larry Vogelnest said the wallaby was "quite distressed" but he gave it a tranquilizer before taking it to the wildlife hospital at nearby Taronga Zoo.

"It had some minor grazes on its face and its hind legs," Vogelnest told reporters. "There don't seem to be any major injuries."

Vogel said he did not know where the wallaby had come from or how it found its way to the bridge.

"It's unusual obviously to have a wallaby running around on the Harbor Bridge, but there are more and more of these wallabies turning up in bush land close to the city," Vogelnest said.

Police Inspector Kylie Smith said several police cars plus horse-handlers from the police mounted unit had responded to the wallaby alert.

"When police arrived, the wallaby refused to obey police directions and initially evaded police," Smith joked.

Six officers eventually nabbed the macropod, including the horse-handlers who attempted to calm it down, she said.

"It was a very unusual job for a city police officer to be chasing a wallaby down the Harbor Bridge," she said, adding that the officers involved would likely never be assigned a similar job.

The wallaby was lucky it did not attempt the journey an hour later at 6 a.m. local time when traffic would have been far heavier, Smith said.

A motorist who identified himself as Ray told Sydney Radio 2GB of his surprise at seeing police cars with flashing lights pursuing a wallaby.

"I'm from the bush, I'm used to seeing them running all over the place, but I've never seen one so close in the city before," Ray said.

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