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This French Forest Is Home to Over 100 Wallabies

If you find yourself walking thorough the forest of Rambouillet, just west of Paris, and happen to see an animal resembling a kangaroo, know that your eyes aren’t playing trick on you, the French forest has been home to up to 150 wallabies for over 40 years.

The colony of red-necked Bennett’s wallabies living in Rambouillet Forest can be traced back to a small group of animals that were brought into a zoological reserve in the nearby village of Emance, during the 1970s. A few of them escaped through holes in the fencing, and were never retrieved. They’ve been living in the wild for decades and researchers believe that the woods may now be home to around 150 wallabies. The forest provided them with shelter and sustenance, they had no natural predators to fear, and the climate was apparently very similar to that of their native Tasmania. The biggest threat to the wallabies of Rambouillet are passing cars.

Photo: pen_ash/Pixabay

Even though they’ve been around for nearly half a century, the wallabies of Rambouillet Forest still enjoy a sort of myth status, even among locals. When someone spots one of the creatures hopping around, they have a tough time convincing their neighbors or friends that they weren’t simply imagining it. Even car insurance companies have a hard time believing wallabies are the cause of road accidents in France, so people in Emance and other villages around the forest have had to take out certificates attesting their presence.

 

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“We probably have about 30 to 40 collisions per year,” Bruno Munilla, from the forestry center in Rambouillet, said. “Not all are deadly but 15 to 20 animals do get killed.”

 

Yellow road signs with kangaroo silhouettes on them, similar to the ones in Australia, have been installed on roads passing through Rambouillet, and while many consider them a joke, they really inform motorists to the presence of marsupials in the forest.

 

The chances of spotting wallabies around Rambouillet are highest early in the morning or after sunset, but even then, the animals are only rarely seen. However, experts assure us that the colony is not only real but thriving, tens of thousands of miles away from their species’ ancestral home.