Escaped kangaroo hopped into our hearts. Now his owner faces charges.

Susannah Bryan, South Florida Sun Sentinel

Kangaroo Jack hopped right into the headlines last week after escaping his yard, running wild on the streets of Fort Lauderdale and finding himself in the back of a squad car.

And now his owner will be hopping into court on Aug. 10 to answer to charges that could land him in jail for up to 60 days.

Anthony Macias, 24, is potentially facing two second-degree misdemeanors — one for allowing the escape and one for not having records to show how he acquired the kangaroo, said Carol Lyn Parrish, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

If convicted, he could face 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Macias is also facing a civil penalty for not having the proper permit to own a kangaroo.

Steve Schaet, an attorney for Macias, does not believe the case will lead to jail time. It will be up to Broward State Attorney’s Office whether to downgrade the charges, he noted.

“The State Attorney’s Office makes the final decision as to what they are really going to charge him with,” Schaet said.

Macias was at work Thursday morning when Jack pushed through a gate that wasn’t properly latched.

Several people called 911 to report what one called the “strangest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Jack was first spotted about a block from home about 9:30 a.m., hopping along North Andrews Avenue near 16th Street.

After his capture by police, he was taken to horse stables for the department’s mounted unit, then whisked off by state wildlife officials.

Now the public wants to know where wildlife officials have taken Jack. But they’re not saying.

“We’re not going to tell you where the kangaroo has been placed,” Parrish said.

She would only say Jack is being kept at a permitted facility. And that’s where he will stay until the state completes its investigation.

As for Jack, his final destination is still up in the air.

He can’t go home because Fort Lauderdale doesn’t allow residents to keep kangaroos as pets.

And state wildlife officials will only release him to someone with a permit. That could be a homeowner, a wildlife sanctuary or a zoo, Parrish said.

It won’t be Zoo Miami — there’s no space, says spokesman Ron Magill.

“It shouldn’t be hard to find a good home for him in Florida,” Magill said. “He’d been kept as a pet, though I highly recommend against that. There’s an old saying, you can take the animal out of the wild. You can’t take the wild out of the animal.”

Kangaroos are social animals and really should live with other kangaroos, Magill said.

Some animal activists worry about what might happen to Jack while in state custody.

Ana Campos, an animal activist from Fort Lauderdale, pointed to a recent incident involving a coyote rescued by firefighters from Biscayne Bay only to be shot dead by a state wildlife officer.

“My trust was blown in FWC when I saw what they did to that coyote,” Campos said of the Feb. 4 incident.

Magill said he too has heard chatter from activists worried that Jack might meet with the same fate as the coyote.

“I would be shocked if something like that were to happen to this kangaroo,” he said.

The state has no plans to euthanize the kangaroo, Parrish said.

“The kangaroo will be held at the permitted facility until the case goes through the court system and the kangaroo is permanently placed in a permitted facility,” she said.

In the meantime, Macias says he already has a plan to get Jack back.

He plans to apply for the proper state permit and move out of Fort Lauderdale. He’s started a GoFundMe page in hopes of raising $100,000 to buy a new place in Davie.

“Unfortunately I don’t live in a zoned area to keep him so I need move to a new place where I can keep him legally,” Macias writes in his appeal for donations. “Every dollar helps and it’s important to get him back with his family where he is loved and totally pampered and cared for.”

In the meantime, he worries about how Jack’s doing.

“I’d love to know where he is,” Macias said.

So would his dog, Max the Corgi.

“My dog keeps looking for him,” Macias said. “He misses him.”

Susannah Bryan can be reached at sbryan@sunsentinel.com or 954-356-4554 or on Twitter @Susannah_Bryan

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