The wallaby's life on the lam is over.

The small Australian mammal, which had been one of Anne Arundel County's most wanted fugitives for days, was finally captured Monday night in Severn.

All it took was bait -- corn, apples and kangaroo chow -- and patience. The marsupial, nicknamed Hoppy, was caught after she ventured into a dog cage for the food.

"The case of the wallaby is now officially closed," said Sgt. Shawn Urbas of the county police department.

Not quite. Authorities still don't know how a cousin to the kangaroo wound up roaming the woods of Maryland.

The wallaby was handed over yesterday to the operators of a Davidsonville petting zoo. If no rightful owner comes forward to claim the wallaby in the next few days, the petting zoo owners want to adopt her.

Hoppy's story began in September, when the two-foot-tall marsupial started showing up near the Severn home of Jean Lauer, 51.

Lauer, who lives on a cul-de-sac next to a 1,000-acre forest, began setting out food for the wallaby, which resembles a small, gray kangaroo.

She made home videos of the animal, dubbed her Hoppy and said she trained her to respond when she called. She thought of the wallaby as her baby.

But Anne Arundel County animal control had a different attitude. Though the wallaby is a plant eater, not known to be aggressive, authorities said it just wouldn't do for an exotic animal to be roaming the suburbs.

They began setting dog traps for it. An animal control officer on patrol saw the animal last week, but it bounded away before the officer could get close.

Wanted by the law, Hoppy became more wary of people. Lauer said the wallaby stayed away from the county's traps.

"All their cage caught was squirrels and raccoons," she said yesterday.

So Lauer and her husband, Ken, began their own efforts to capture Hoppy. They put bait into a steel dog cage in their back yard and waited.

About 9 p.m. Monday, Hoppy ventured inside the cage. Ken Lauer pulled a rope, and the door slammed shut behind her.

Debbie and Steve Collison, the owners of a nearby petting zoo, were on hand to place the wallaby into a quilted piece of material that resembles a kangaroo's pouch. In the pouch, Hoppy became so docile that Lauer said she was able to plant a kiss on her head.

"She was a little nervous at first," Lauer said. "But she's safe now."

The wallaby was handed over to county authorities, who determined that she was in good health.

Yesterday, they handed her back to the Collisons, who already have an older wallaby named Bebe at their petting zoo in Davidsonville.

There, Collison said, Hoppy will be kept in a porch for several days until she gets used to her new surroundings. After that, her new home will be a fenced-in enclosure she will share with Bebe.

"We're just happy that she's caught and she's safe," Collison said. "We don't have to worry about hunters or cars."

Hoppy's origins remained unclear yesterday. Wallabies are imported to the United States as pets and for petting zoos and other exhibitions. Hoppy is not the first to escape into the wild.

In 1999, for instance, a wallaby ran out onto Interstate 70 in Howard County. Several police officers tried desperately to corral it, but the animal was struck by a car and killed.

When they first heard about the wallaby at Lauer's house, the Collisons thought it might be the one that disappeared from their petting zoo five years ago. But Hoppy is too young: She's only about 18 months old, Debbie Collison said yesterday.

Lauer, who began feeding the wallaby in September, had been worried about what would happen to Hoppy after she was captured.

Yesterday, she said she was satisfied that the wallaby was in a good home. "It won't be lonely anymore," she said. "Everybody needs somebody, even little animals."

Jean Lauer of Severn provided kangaroo food as well as fruit and corn to feed the wallaby when it visited her back yard and, eventually, to capture it. "She's safe now," Lauer said.At two feet tall, the wallaby looks like a small kangaroo.