Claims that kangaroo died after birthday disco in Dublin hotel
Allegations that a kangaroo or wallaby died after being given drink at a birthday disco were being investigated by gardai today.
The marsupial was let loose among more than 150 revellers dancing at the Clarion Hotel in Liffey Valley, west Dublin, to the theme tune of Australian television show Skippy The Bush Kangaroo.
The creature was believed to have been hired for the prank, which has outraged animal welfare campaigners.
"There is no evidence at this stage of a body, or evidence to suggest it is dead," said a garda source.
Officers launched an inquiry after complaints were passed on from a witness at the 30th birthday celebrations and others who saw a video uploaded to Facebook.
Hotel manager Garret Marrinan said CCTV footage had been handed to the investigation team. "We're horrified by this," he added.
Mr Marrinan said a duty manager became suspicious when he noticed a commotion around the dancefloor during the party in a hired function room at around 11pm on Saturday.
"He actually had to climb up on to the stage to look in, and when he looked in he noticed a box and out of it came what he described as something like a large dog," he said.
"By the time he got down through the crowd, the animal and the box were gone.
"We had no idea where it came in or how it got out of the hotel. The whole thing was all a bit upsetting to be honest with you."
Mr Marrinan said the hotel was giving every help it could to gardai.
The Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) said it had received five complaints including one person who claimed to be at the party.
Others said they had seen footage of the incident on Facebook, which has since been removed from the site.
Orla Aungier, DSPCA operations manager, said the marsupial could have been a wallaby, rather than a small kangaroo, because wallabies are easier to buy in Ireland.
"At some point during the party, what we believe to be a wallaby was brought on to the dancefloor and it was being handled as Skippy The Bush Kangaroo was played loud as the back track," she said.
"We have also been told that after the party, the animal had died. That is only alleged, but the most important thing for us is to find out where the animal is and if it is okay."
Ms Aungier said kangaroos and wallabies needed very specialised care and would have been distressed by being handled and the loud music and flashing lights of a crowded disco.
Gardai said the allegations will be thoroughly investigated and party-goers questioned about what happened after the incident captured on hotel surveillance cameras.
"We believe that it was hired and brought to the party for around 10 minutes," a garda source said.
"We are investigating an allegation that it was given alcohol but there is no evidence of that either at this stage.
"After the CCTV footage, no one knows what happened, good, bad or indifferent."
Wallabies are classified as exotic animals in Ireland so there is no legislation on their breeding or ownership.
They are offered for sale on online classifieds sites at around €700.
The DSPCA said websites are also offering zebras and emus for sale.