SHAWNEE — Somewhere in the miles of farmland around their home, among the wind-swept brown grasses, barbed wire and cedar trees, a lost kangaroo is waiting to be found — or so the Menhusen family hopes.
The outpouring of support to help the family find its missing pet kangaroo, named Lucy Sparkles, has been staggering, said Shayla Menhusen, the animal's owner. She's had calls from as far away as Germany and news stories have spread to Japan. A Facebook page called Bring Lucy Sparkles Home was set up on Monday and now has more than 1,500 followers.
“Good Morning America” producers are calling her every morning to see if Lucy's been found.
It's become one of the most talked-about stories out there, Menhusen thinks, because it's unusual for a family to have a pet kangaroo.
“People have gone kangaroo crazy,” Menhusen said. “It's way more than I thought would happen. I never expected this.”
She also said the fervor might be due to the $1,000 reward offered to find Lucy.
Their 11-month-old red kangaroo slipped away from the family's 5-acre home site north of Shawnee near the Lincoln County and Pottawattamie County line on Thanksgiving evening. Menhusen said she thinks the guests and commotion scared the marsupial.
Reports surfaced on Thursday that Lucy had been found. That wasn't true. Leads have come in from all over the place, but still, no sign of the 2-foot-tall kangaroo.
Generous strangers have offered night-vision tools or their own eyes to help search the miles of farmland surrounding the Menhusen home. Every night someone is out combing the fields and calling for the lost pet. The family is also hoping to get a hold of a helicopter to aid in the search.
“She can outrun any predator,” Menhusen said. “Our biggest concern is her being hit by a car or attacked by a large cat. And we're very concerned someone might find her and keep her.”
Animal control officials in the surrounding counties have been notified, and the family has also been passing out fliers.
A hand-picked pet
Lucy was picked out about five months ago by the Menhusen's oldest daughter, 4-year-old Layla. Menhusen and her husband, Larry, owner of an electrical contracting company, also have a 16-month-old daughter and a 5-week-old daughter. The family bought Lucy from a breeder in Texas. The owner told the family that Lucy slept in her bed as a young joey.