US town goes mad for ‘roo named Jojo
A BABY kangaroo named Jojo has brought a US community to a standstill as hundreds of people joined in the search to find him amid fears he could be attacked by a local alligator.
Spooked by a big storm in Gulfport, Mississippi, where he was visiting a local school, the one-metre tall Jojo jumped straight over his owner, wildlife photographer Cody Breland, and hopped away into the suburbs.
Mr Breland, who is building a nature reserve for exotic animals, said Jojo's movements over the next 24 hours captivated local residents amid fears the 'roo could be taken by an alligator if he strayed into nearby swamplands.
"Within a few hours of Jojo going missing, hundreds of people were out looking for him," Mr Breland told News Corp Australia.
"A lot of people just wanted to see a kangaroo and word about the search spread really quickly on Facebook.
"Not only were there dozens of police out there looking for him, we had everyone from the owners of local casinos to car dealers out trying to find him.
"People were handing out bottles of water and pizza, it was a genuine community effort.
"Online we were even getting messages of support and encouragement from Jojo's land of origin, Australia."
Mr Breland said Jojo stuck to the suburban roads around Gulfport rather than trying to hide in the woods, which are much thicker than the bush encountered by kangaroos in Australia.
"He pretty much stayed right in the middle of the streets the whole time, and I think that's because he wants to be able to see predators.
"In Australia, kangaroos are happy to go into the bush because it isn't usually as thick as the woods around here and they can still see what's going on. Sometimes in these woods you can't see a foot in front of you."
The search ended happily when Jojo came to a standstill in the neighbourhood of Bayou View, frozen in the headlights of a car driven by one of the searchers.
"Thanks to all of the reports on social media, I was able to keep up with where he was. He was basically in a trance, staring at the headlights just like a deer will do. A policeman was able to gently slip a leash on him and lead him to a police car."
Rescuers had been worried that Jojo could be attacked by a local alligator in the swampy area. He did end up with one wound above his tail which appears to be a snake bite, requiring a trip to a vet who specialises in exotic animals.
"He seems fine and happy to be home with Mercury," Mr Breland said referring to his two-year old "brother".
And while this sounds like a very Down Under tale, both Jojo and Mercury are in fact US natives - Jojo was bred in Tupelo, Mississippi, and Mercury hails from San Antonio, Texas.