Hop to it - the tail of a runaway wallaby!

LAST week the Luton News told, above, how an orphaned baby wallaby has a new home in the shape of a rucksack at Whipsnade Zoo.

Tilly is being hand-reared by keepers after she was found out of her mum’s pouch a month ago.

Jo Shirley, right, now carries her around in the substitute pouch wherever she goes, just as her real mum would.

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But it wasn’t the first time that a wallaby had made headlines in this newspaper – it happened 45 years ago.

The Luton News told in May 1967 how a runaway marsupial was caught by his tail by a group of “hot and bothered” policemen.

But what made the drama so unusual was that it happened right in the centre of Luton.

The wallaby had been spotted by two passers-by at 2.15 on a Monday morning while it was sitting in the middle of George Street outside Blundell’s store, where Debenhams is now.

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The animal spent the rest of the night “in custody” at the police station, which was then on the corner of Stuart Street and Dunstable Place, before being taken to Whipsnade Zoo.

Pictured, left, are Insp S. Harris of the RSPCA and police constable S. Coote directing the wallaby into a van while keeping a firm hold of its tail so that it didn’t escape again.

Returning to today, Tilly will treat the rucksack as home for the next few months.

She will then go to live on Whipsnade Zoo’s Children’s Farm where she will join three other hand-reared wallabies.

Whipsnade has about 300 wallabies which have access to much of the park’s 600 acres.