KINGSTON – If you happen to see what looks like a miniature kangaroo hopping about, there's nothing wrong with your eyes.
Her name is Willow, and her human family would very much like to have her back.
Willow is a 14-month-old baby wallaroo, an Australian marsupial that is like a miniature kangaroo. She is about 2 feet tall, gray and weighs between 15 and 20 pounds. She is the pet of the Cleveland family, and went missing from their home near Glidden and Cherry Valley roads in Kingston about 8 p.m. Tuesday.
"She was outside with me, and I went inside to help my boys with a math problem," Jenny Cleveland said. "I realized I forgot to bring her in with me. It had been about a 20-minute time span, and when I went back out she was gone."
Willow has spent time outdoors by herself before, Cleveland said, but has never before run away. Though wallaroos can run fairly fast, she said, it's not common for them.
"They're grazers. Unless they're being chased by a dog or something, they don't just all-out run," Cleveland said. "It's more like a cow, just moving along grazing."
DeKalb County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Gary Dumdie said if anyone spots the baby wallaroo, they can call either the sheriff's office at 815-895-2155 or DeKalb County Animal Control at 815-758-6673.
Both departments are aware of the missing pet and can contact the Clevelands if she is found, he said.
"That person who had a few too many and thinks they saw something might actually have seen something," Dumdie said.
Cleveland said she got Willow in Texas in January, and that she did not have to obtain any special permit or license to keep her as a pet. While inside the house, Willow wears a diaper, and Cleveland described her personality as laid-back.
"She just stands there and lets me put the diaper on her," she said. "She follows me around and wants to snuggle with me all the time. I've been sick, and the other day I slept all day, and she just slept right with me. I think they're a better pet than a dog."
Wallaroos spend the first 8 months of their lives in their mother's pouch, so Willow has not spent much time with people other than the Cleveland family. Dumdie suggested people not try to catch her if they see her, since she may defend herself.
Cleveland said the wallaroo will roll up into a blanket if it is thrown over her, or will somersault into an open pillowcase as if it is her mother's pouch and will lie still. Willow is likely to be more on the move closer to nightfall, she said.