The mystery of Neath's runaway wallaby explained

Seeing a wallaby in Wales is something you may think would only be possible at a zoo.

So, when ITV Wales was contacted by a member of the public earlier this month who said he had spotted a wallaby on his CCTV in Neath in the middle of the night, it was hard to believe the footage was actually true.

South Wales Police later confirmed it had attended reports of sighting of a wallaby - and had in fact returned it to its owner.

Now, the owner has spoken out about his pet marsupial - and the runaway wallaby has a history of fleeing his home.

Owner Jonathan Hale, 52, who actually owns two wallabies, has named the runaway pet Hilts - after Steve McQueen's character in the film The Great Escape. The other is called Sam.

Since the sighting on CCTV, Hilts, who lives on private land in Neath for the last four years, he has managed to escape again - this time being spotted along the canal.

Brian David said he was "gobsmacked" to see the wallaby near Tonna last Sunday.

"I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him. I took about 40+ photos. He seemed quite happy to pose. I am just glad I had my camera with me", Brian said.

Hilts was photographed by a member of the public Credit: Brian David

Hilts' escape routine remains a mystery, Mr Hale explained how it is becoming "hard work" trying to catch him.

Hilts was spotted along the canal in Neath on 24 May Credit: Brian David

I have no idea how he's getting out, the paddock gates are eight foot tall. I'm 5'9 and the highest I saw him jump was about five foot over my head while I was kneeling.

Owner, Jonathan Hale

"Maybe he is bouncing on something to be able to manage it. He's always the one escaping and he's managed it a couple of dozen times since we got him", Mr Hale said.

Mr Hale explained that he would ideally like to breed some more wallabies, but Hilts' antics have put him off.

"They are nice pets and can become quite tame. I have thought about getting a female wallaby to breed with them, but because Hilts keeps getting out it's hard hard work trying to catch him," he said.

Mr Hale and his wife Julie live at the home their two sons Graham, 25, and Jay, 16, and youngest daughter Jaz who is 14.

Keeping animals has been a hobby for Mr Hale since he was a young boy, and it has progressed over the years.

Now he mainly owns decorative birds, such as emus, swans, peacocks and silver pheasants, and has a licence allowing him to do so.

Though most of the animals are bred at the property, Mr Hale said he got the wallabies from an animal park in Oxford.

"We breed a lot of the animals - we have swan eggs at the moment - but I also keep in touch with other parks and breeders around the country," he said.

"I got the wallabies because over the years I had some sheep and various other animals so had a lot of grass for them. The wallabies also eat similar food to the other birds and animals - they're just a bit more interesting."