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A wallaby who went on a two-week hiatus is home in Hattiesburg. Where did Jeff go?

Jeff, a 2-year-old wallaby, was captured on Wednesday and is back home.
Jeff, a 2-year-old wallaby, was captured on Wednesday and is back home.

Jeff the wallaby, missing in the Lake Serene area since March 13, has been found.

Kayla Graham, girlfriend of Jeff's owner, Logan Whitehead, posted on Facebook around 9 a.m. Wednesday that Jeff is home.

"We found him this morning as Katherine Smith lured him into her fenced-in back yard," she said in the post. Sightings of Jeff ranged from the Lake Serene area to Rawls Springs, where he was reportedly seen on Archie Smith Road near Mississippi 42.

A few area businesses offered rewards for Jeff's safe return, and one man wrote a song about Jeff's escape. A Hattiesburg company even made T-shirts sporting a wallaby that says, "Where's Jeff?"

Magnolia Graphics owner Lance Sanderford, who offered a $200 cash reward for Jeff's return, said he is over the moon that Jeff is home safe.

Sanderford also had been out looking for Jeff himself whenever he had spare time.

Sanderford was not aware of Jeff's homecoming until later Wednesday morning since he worked until around 2 a.m. and didn't wake up until around 10:30 a.m.

The first thing he did was text Graham to see if there were any updates, not realizing he already had hundreds of text and Facebook messages about Jeff being found.

"It just blew up," he said. "I just woke up to a tornado in my bedroom. "I couldn't believe (that he was captured). I was just beside myself."

Sanderford said Whitehead's plan was to take Jeff to see a veterinarian to make sure Jeff isn't dehydrated or has other issues stemming from being exposed to the elements for two weeks.

Now that Jeff is home, Sanderford said he is trying to locate Smith to give her the reward he promised. He hopes to someday be able to host a meet-and-greet with Jeff so people can see the wallaby that captured the attention — and the hearts — of Hattiesburg. That would depend on Whitehead's approval and whether Jeff will be OK with small groups of people, he said.

"There are so many people that love him now and care about his welfare now, I'd like to do something where they can get a picture with him or give him a treat," Sanderford said.

On Sunday, Sanderford said Whitehead was close to catching Jeff when the wallaby was startled by a group of passersby and ran back into the woods.

"He took off like greased lightning and evaded capture yet again," Sanderford said on Facebook.

Whitehead and Graham were on vacation at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, when they were alerted to Jeff's disappearance.

Jeff, who is around 2 years old, escaped once before through a hole in Whitehead's fence. He was found a day or two later, Whitehead said. The hole was repaired, but Jeff managed to find an area where he could push his way out of the fence this time.

"I guess he got stressed because I'm away, and he found a way to wiggle his way out," Whitehead said in an earlier story.

The joey started poking her head out of her mother's pouch earlier in 2016. Now she's so bold that she even ventures outside the pouch and eats willow leaves on her own.

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