In the 24 hours since his chase through the streets of Peru, Wally the Wallaroo has become a social media phenomenon and has been highlighted on countless media outlets throughout the country.
Wally and his owner, Nathan Drewel, captivated much of the Illinois Valley on Wednesday afternoon, as all were happy to see that no one was injured during the wild ride.
Wally’s afternoon sparked many questions from the community, from the legality of owning exotic animals in Illinois to what even is a wallaroo.
While the latter can be answered with a quick Google search – a species of macropods between the size of a kangaroo and a wallaby – the legal question has proven to be more complex.
In Peru Police Chief Doug Bernabei’s initial statement given hours after Wally’s arrival at Bridgeview Veterinary Hospital in Peru, he said he believed the animal was lawfully owned and possessed by state permit.
Thursday morning, Bernabei said the PD still is going through an investigation, but they now believe Wally was owned without a proper permit, and the city and an agricultural agency will work with his owner to find a new and suitable home.
Wally himself was able to return home Wednesday evening after receiving treatment to help bring his temperature up to normal and check for further injury.
Dr. Allison Spayer said in the short time Wally was at Bridgeview, they saw his condition and movement improve.
“He looked actually really good,” Spayer said. “He was standing, and he was able to hop around. He was hopping down by surgery, so we actually let him move around for like an hour or so to make sure he had his bearings and wasn’t limping.”
Spayer said Wally was sent home with instructions to continue monitoring him and look for any signs of pain or discomfort from Wednesday’s journey around town.
Spayer also mentioned she had a phone call with the owner a few hours after Wally returned home. Drewel said Wally was almost acting back to normal.
He was reportedly hopping around the house, eating Wheat Thins and seemed to be recovering from the chase very positively.
On top of the social media craze that occurred, a Tonica t-shirt business saw an opportunity to use Wednesday’s events to raise money for a great cause.
Savvy Tees and Apparel located at 11 Bailey Creek Drive in Tonica announced on its Facebook page Wednesday evening it would offer "Free Wally" T-shirts in response to the event.
The business also said its intent to donate all proceeds from the shirt and sweatshirt to the Cops 4 Cancer charity.
Savvy Tees and Apparel owner Mark Coons said the idea came from a friend of his joking about the ongoing event asking, "Where is the t-shirt?" Coons’ friend commented and tagged him in a video on Wally evading the police.
“I thought it’d be funny to kind of throw something together real quick, and I commented back at her,” Koons said. “I thought, ‘I wonder if I could sell these and donate the money to Cops 4 Cancer?' "
Coons said the idea took off on social media, as in the beginning he didn’t believe the shirt would gather a lot of buzz.
As of Thursday afternoon, Coons has sold around 50 shirts that will make for roughly a $500 donation. The shirt still is available to buy until Dec. 6, as Coons hopes to be able to present a $1,000 donation to the charitable organization.
As for the future of Wally the Peru Wallaroo, only time will tell ... but everyone will remember where he or she was when Wally went on his wild ride.