HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Jeff the wallaby is still hopping around Hattiesburg. The marsupial went missing on March 13 from his owner's backyard.
"I think he got scared, because he hadn't seen me," said owner Logan Whitehead who talked to WDAM during his vacation at Walt Disney World. "They are very attached to their owners."
While Whitehead and his family were in Florida, Jeff the Joey as his owner fondly calls him, hopped away from his habitat. Whitehead was notified by his roommates about his missing pet. Shortly thereafter, family and friends took to social media to ask for help with Jeff's safe return.
Since then, businesses have come forward to offer rewards for the person(s) who catches him. Magnolia Graphics is providing a $200 cash reward and Parris Jewelers is giving away a $200 gift card. The Lucky Rabbit also hopped on the #WheresJeff movement by creating a t-shirt with a picture of a wallaby with a Hardy Street sign hovering over the 'Where's Jeff' tagline.
Magnolia Grille is the latest business to sweeten the deal for anyone who captures Jeff. On Tuesday, they posted to Facebook telling Jeff that if he bounced west to Columbia they would have "delicious banana pudding and fresh rolls" on their lunch menu waiting for him. And for the person who works up an appetite on #WallabyWatch, dinner for two at Magnolia Grille may satisfy their hunger.
While others are offering monetary rewards and dinner, one Pine Belt man used his musical talents to create a song for the missing marsupial. Van Arnold's country inspired song 'Dang it! Where's Jeff the Wallaby?' has been shared over 150 times with over 9,000 views on Facebook. He belts out a tune about the community coming together to return Jeff to his owner.
"Seven lonely days and a thousand yards ago, they looked up one night and Jeff was gone," he sang. "Don't know why he run… what he's running to or from all I know is we need to bring Jeff home."
People have flooded social media with their tips about Jeff's location. Since Whitehead's return from Walt Disney World last Saturday, he's been searching for Jeff everyday with the help of others. The most recent sighting was at Cole Road and Highway 24. But, he's been spotted at Lake Serene at Snug Harbor, River Life Church and North Lake Serene in Highpointe by the pool.
Whitehead urges anyone who sees Jeff to not pick him up, because he's "skittish" when it comes to strangers. He also advises people not to approach him saying "he'll approach you." Whitehead says Jeff the wallaby loves bread, bananas and drinks water. So, anyone who sees him can give those to him.
According to National Geographic, wallabies are not kangaroos despite their striking resemblance. However, they are members of the kangaroo clan compared to cousins of different families. For example, they are various types of wallabies grouped by habitats such as brush, shrub, rock and hare.
Wallabies are usually small to medium in size, but they can get as big as six feet. As a herbivore, their diets typically consist of grass and plants. Their life expectancy is estimated at about nine years.
If anyone sees Jeff the Wallaby, call the Hub City Humane Society or Whitehead at 601-543-3583.