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Fort Worth Zoo Recovers Missing Owl

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
Joel is an Emmy Award winning journalist with more than 15 year...
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(credit: Joel Thomas/KTVT/KTXA)

(credit: Joel Thomas/KTVT/KTXA)

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Fort Worth Zoo workers spent the last two days with their eyes turned upwards looking for one of their prized performers: Tyto, a white Barn Owl.  She was one of the birds used in a wild bird show.  But it was an unsuspecting neighbor who saved the day.

“She’s involved in one of our outdoor shows, flies across the public’s head from glove to glove, station to station,” said Ron Surratt, Director of Animal Collections.  “Well, on Sunday she decided to take a hike and she flew off.”

Tyto caught a gust of wind during a performance and soared off.  The Zoo was asking neighbors to search the thick, green canopy in the surrounding neighborhood for their owl.

“The main thing we’ve been relying on is for the public to call us if they see the bird,” Surratt said.

Jane Johnston lives right behind the zoo.  She heard a commotion in a tree outside Tuesday morning.

“Well, I heard all this noise and I figured the blue jays were trying to get something out of their nest,” Johnston said.  “But then it got louder and louder.”

It wasn’t just the annoyed jays fussing at a white feathered intruder.

“She’s very vocal,” Surratt said about Tyto. “If she sees humans around she does start to vocalize.”

“I couldn’t see anything and I was about to walk away and then I saw this big white face looking at me,” Johnston said. “It startled me!”

But Johnston knew it was the bird the zoo was searching for.

“I was scared to move because I was scared he would fly off,” she said.  “So I just stood there a minute. And then I told him, ‘I see you! And I’m going to get help.'”

Tuesday morning Johnston placed the call zoo workers had been waiting for.

“So, they finally got here and sprung into action and it took about an hour to get him down,” Johnston recalled.

A few mice on a perch finally did the trick and Tyto came out of the tree and was taken home.

Tyto lost only a little weight during her two day zoo-break, so she’d probably found something to eat.

Zoo workers are just glad their frenzied search for their feathered friend is over.

“We are extremely relieved!” exclaimed zoo outreach manager Kristen Garrett.  “Extremely relieved!! We’re very, very happy.”

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