UPDATE: Wally, the pet wallaby who was reported missing in Washington County, has been found safe, according to owner Daniel Sochalski.
Sochalski said Wally was found nearby and is back at the farm Thursday night.
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL)- A family in Washington County is asking for the public’s help for the safe return of their pet wallaby named “Wally.”
According to a social media post, Daniel Sochalski said Wally escaped from his enclosure and was last seen in the Watauga Flats area of Piney Flats.
Wally is described as the center piece of The Sochalskis’ farm.
The four-year-old wallaby has been part of the family for the last two years, and they fear that finding their family pet will be like finding a needle in a haystack.
“He comes right through here and come gets his food every time. He’ll lay here in the dry lot and that’s where he gets his sunbathing,” wallaby owner, Daniel Sochalski said.
When Daniel Sochalski came out to feed Wally Wednesday night, he noticed the wallaby did not come up for food, which raised concerns.
Sochalski said, “He’s probably going to pop up in a field or a yard, where people least expect him. You’ll be looking out your window and all of a sudden you think you’re seeing a giant rat, well that’s probably Wally.”
Wally is four years old. The former zoo animal is 32-inches tall and loves to eat fruit and dog food.
“He’s friendly enough to– you can hand him a banana, you can hand him something but we don’t recommend that anybody try to approach him. Don’t try to catch him. The last thing we want to do is push him farther from his home,” he told Pheben Kassahun.
He is said to be friendly, but gets nervous when approached by strangers.
“Wally came from a petting zoo before we got him. He’s nice but like any wild animal, they demand respect,” he said. He’s a family pet. He’s just like one of our dogs or one of the alpacas or– he has half an acre to roam around in. He’s got a 10×20 shed barn that he can go into. He’s fed two to three times a day. He lives the life. “
However, finding this exotic animal will be like finding a needle in a haystack.
Sochalski said, “Last night, I kind of scoured the back of the property, walked to the neighbor’s. Probably walked two miles with a flashlight and there’s a lot of woods behind our house.
Sochalski added, the outpouring of support from the community has been encouraging.
“We’re getting ready to put flyers out. We have 100 flyers. Today at 5, we’ve got friends and family coming over to kind of scour the neighborhoods and the neighbors and give them flyers, in hopes that somebody sees him and calls in,” he said.
He and his son Kylar just hope Wally’s return can come sooner rather than later.
“We enjoy it. It’s like every kid’s dream, so you know, no we’re just trying to bring back the center piece of our farm,” he said.
There is also a reward being offered, according to the post.
Sochalski said in part, “DO NOT TRY TO CATCH HIM. He is friendly unless he’s nervous. He will eat fruit and dog food.”
News Channel 11 reached out to officials with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to request more information.
According to Matthew Cameron with the TWRA, “A wallaby is legal to possess without any special permits. TWRA will not be assisting with the search for the missing animal. ”
This is a developing story. Look for updates on WJHL.com.