The kangaroo, named Hoppy by a girl who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, escaped a cloth pouch Saturday morning by jumping out of the truck’s window during a family event at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, located about 13 miles from Little Rock, Cockrill's Country Critters Mobile Petting Zoo and Pony Rides said in a Facebook post Monday.
Volunteers searched the military base for several hours, but couldn’t locate the 9-month-old red kangaroo by Saturday night. Hoppy was spotted alive Sunday night behind the medical clinic, but was then found dead the next morning, the petting zoo said.
Jan Cockrill-Griffin, the petting zoo owner, said she suspected the marsupial was attacked by another animal before he died because of the puncture wounds on the animal’s face.
"We assumed that he would be okay. He was very social, very loveable," Cockrill-Griffin told NBC News.
"He had teeth marks around his face,” she added, possibly from being "attacked by a coyote or a dog."
The petting zoo has six adult kangaroos and two babies, along with other animals, Cockrill-Griffin said. The animals are treated like personal pets and can be educational for children, she said.
The zoo said Hoppy was special because of his relationship to Lilly Johnson, a 6-year-old girl who visited the petting zoo before her death.
“Before Lilly passed away, she had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with one of our baby roos named Carter. We allowed Lilly to name this new baby, & she choose Hoppy!” the petting zoo said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.