Wallaby leads police chase over Sydney Harbour Bridge

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A wallaby hopping across the Sydney Harbour Bridge held up early-morning traffic in Australia’s biggest city on Tuesday, before being caught downtown by police officers.

Police said they chased the animal, which looks like a small kangaroo, over the bridge before dawn.

“Officers took the startled macropod into police custody near the Conservatorium of Music, with the police mounted unit arriving on scene soon after to take it to the zoo for veterinary assessment,” New South Wales Police said in a statement.

Video filmed from a pursuing patrol car showed a wallaby, about a meter high, hopping at a clip across the famous arch-span bridge, and a policeman stifles a laugh as he drives along behind it.

Nicknamed “The Coathanger,” the famous arched bridge opened in 1932 and with 8 traffic lanes, 2 railway lines and a footpath and cycleway is the main harbor crossing linking the city with its northern suburbs.

“I’m from the bush, so I’m used to see them running around all over the place but I’ve never seen one so close to the city before,” said a driver who gave his name as Ray, one of several people who called Sydney radio station 2GB about the marsupial.

While wallabies and kangaroos are found in both rural and leafy suburban areas, it’s highly unusual to see them so close to a major city center.

Police said the wallaby probably began its citybound journey at a golf club on the harbor’s north shore before it was spotted heading south across the bridge in lane 8 about 5 a.m. (18:00 Monday GMT).

“Traffic controllers…monitored the wallaby as it hopped across to lane 1 and, without indicating, exited onto Cahill Expressway then to Macquarie Street,” police added in a statement, referring to a street in the city center.

It was taken to Taronga Zoo for a veterinary assessment, police said. The zoo could not immediately be reached for comment.