ZOO keepers are in a race against time to save an escaped bird from starvation and attacks from seagulls.
Cherry the scarlet ibis escaped from Edinburgh Zoo three days ago with the help of a squirrel that chewed its way through the enclosure’s netting.
Staff have attempted to catch the Cherry on several occasions across the capital.
But the liberty-loving bird recognises the zoo uniforms and flies off at the first sign, according to one witness.
Zoo staff fear that it could be another fortnight until they manage to capture her.
Cherry is currently enjoying her liberty in a tree at Cramond beach.
Zoo staff are trying to feed the bird on mussels and prawns – with a net always at the ready.
If the bird refuses the food provided she could starve to death.
There is also a risk that seagulls could attack and eat the bird.
The risk of Cherry being attacked increases the longer the zoo keepers take to capture her.
A spokeswoman for Edinburgh zoo said: “She is showing more interest in food but it could be two weeks before we catch her.
“The best chance we have is when she is tired and hungry and remains on the ground for a prolonged period of time.”
She added: “Zoo keepers can’t be there all of the time.”
Darren McGarry, head of animals at the zoo, said: “The only predators would be crows or seagulls.”
He added: “However, our keepers have observed no interest from local wildlife in the bird, despite its unusual appearance.”
Police have been monitoring the situation and helping the zoo by notifying them with any sightings.
Members of the public have also helped by phoning in with reports of the bird around the city.
Alan Girdwood, a self-employed electrician, witnessed the zoo keepers’ attempt to capture the bird yesterday.
He said: “It was on the ground and they were throwing fish towards it, it actually ate a bit of fish.
“But then they went back to the van and got out a couple of nets and it flew up into a tree. It was perched up there above them. They ended up calling for reinforcements.
“One of the keepers said the bird had been spotted down at Port Seton earlier this morning. She said the bird had recognised their outfits from the zoo and that’s why it flew off.”
The bird has travelled to various spots throughout the capital starting its journey from the zoo to Dundas Street.
From there she visited three locations on Seafield Road; the roof of Matalan, the roof of Edinburgh’s Dog and Cat Home then to a bridge close to Seafield sewage works.
The bird was then spotted at the Malmaison hotel in Leith before moving onto a tree on Marine Drive at Cramond beach.