THE TROPICAL bird that escaped from Edinburgh Zoo has been returned to its enclosure after spending nearly a week on the loose.
It was feared that the scarlet ibis known as Cherry would become a victim to dangerous local wildlife like seagulls or even starve to death.
A number of sightings were reported of the red wading bird who was casually strutting her stuff around the capital in a 5 mile radius.
But staff at the zoo have now returned the feathery fugitive to her enclosure following a vigilant recovery mission.
The two-year-old ibis initially escaped from the zoo last Tuesday when it is believed a squirrel chewed through the net that covered its enclosure.
She has been a resident at the zoo since 2010 and shares the enclosure with six other ibis and 36 flamingos.
After her escape Cherry was able to evade capture from desperate zookeepers by staying perched in hard-to-reach places like trees and balcony ledges.
But the bird-hunt was soon brought to an end on Sunday afternoon when staff finally netted her using mussels, mealworms and prawns after her six day vacation.
Colin Oulton, Team Leader of the bird section at Edinburgh Zoo, Said:
“It’s really quite surprising how far the Scarlet ibis flew, eventually ending up at the shore at Cramond. Being flock birds, you would expect them to stay quite close to the rest of the flock.
“During her time away from the Zoo, the escapee bird took to perching in places that made it a tad more difficult to recapture her, so we had to wait for the best time to make our move.
“We always knew that it wouldn’t be a straightforward or easy task to recapture her, and that it would take a little time and patience…and luckily it paid off, as we were able to do just that after a few attempts to encourage her towards a carry box with some mussels and prawns.
“The bird has been quite relaxed about the whole thing – the ibis will have been able to go down onto the mudflats and most likely catch food for herself.
“I would definitely say that she has a curious nature and I’m sure she has a great story to tell the rest of the Scarlet ibis flock when she returns to them later this week.“
It was previously thought that Cherry avoided capture by being able to recognise the uniform of zoo workers.
Alan Girdwood, a self-employed electrician, witnessed the zoo keepers’ attempt to capture the bird.
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.”
Now back home safe and sound after a week at liberty Cherry will undergo routine health checks in order to make sure she is fit to re-join her flock.
Mr Oulton added: “Although she seems to be in perfect health, we’re just carrying out some routine tests, and after four to five days in quarantine, she’ll be reunited with the other birds after her mini adventure across Edinburgh.”
The bird travelled to various spots throughout the capital starting its journey from the zoo toDundas Street.
From there she visited three seaside 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 onMarine Driveat Cramond beach.