MARLBOROUGH, Conn. (AP) – Wallabies, the smaller cousin of a kangaroo, are native to Australia, but try telling Ellen Jagielo that.

The Marlborough woman was driving home Tuesday night when she struck and killed one along Route 66.

“I didn’t know what it was,” Jagielo said Wednesday. “I feel terrible. He’s beautiful.”

No one knows where the animal came from or why it was hopping out of a wooded area in Marlborough near Hebron.

“This is the weirdest car vs. animal call I’ve ever responded to,” said Marlborough Resident Trooper Mark Packer.

Department of Environmental Protection officials suspect someone had been keeping it illegally and it escaped. But Jan Veilleux, of Plymouth wonders if it was her “Joey” – a pet wallaby that escaped from her home in July 2004. She said a wayward wallaby could have easily hopped to Marlborough.

“They move fast,” she said.

Veilleux, who has other wallabies and a red kangaroo, said she has an exotic animal license.

Jagielo said when she phoned her auto insurance company to report her car bumper had been damaged by a kangaroo, she was met with an awkward silence.

“Ma’am, this call is being taped,” the woman from Allstate told her.

There also was disbelief from her co-workers at Manchester Memorial Hospital when she called to say she’d be late for work Wednesday morning and told them why. When she did arrive, there was a “kangaroo crossing” sign on her door, a stuffed kangaroo on her desk, and a picture of a wallaby on her screen saver.

“Nobody believes me,” Jagielo said. “They wait for the punch line.”