The boss of Baytree Owl Centre has thanked the public for their amazing support after a Great Grey owl called Kevin was stolen in a break-in.
Manager Mark Birdsall said the centre has followed-up all local leads where there had been possible sightings of Kevin, but each led to a dead end.
He said: “We are getting to the point where we are resigned to the fact that Kevin was probably stolen to order so the chances of him turning up anywhere are relatively slim.
“We have had amazing coverage, from the press and on social media – we had something like half-a-million views in the end on Facebook and that led to a lot of potential sightings.”
Mark has thanked everyone who joined in the search for Kevin, even in small ways like sharing the news on social media.
Kevin was born at Baytree to parents who still live at the centre and, at the grand old age of eight, he was due to make his debut in the centre’s popular flying displays, which are open to the public from Easter through to September.
Mark spent five long months training Kevin to show off his 5ft wingspan in graceful flight at the centre’s outdoor arena.
But burglars put paid to those plans after scrambling over a fence, breaking into the centre and then smashing to the floor a padlock on Kevin’s aviary.
The raid at the Weston-based owl centre was discovered as staff arrived for work on Tuesday, February 16.
Police are continuing their investigation and a spokesman yesterday said that, sadly, there had been no developments and Kevin was still missing.
The flying 1.30pm daily displays will go on as normal this year, starting on Good Friday.
Following the devastating theft of Kevin, staff at the owl centre are this week making it business as usual and have embarked on a new build for their Secretary Bird, Kelly, to give him twice the room and a more natural looking environment, complete with sand.
“He’s been here for about 25 years,” said Mark.
Secretary Birds are native to Africa and typically kill snakes in the Sahara by stamping on them with their feet.
Kelly doesn’t get the chance to try out his deadly art on the real thing, although he does have a 7ft rubber snake for practice.
He was named Kelly because the centre at first thought he was a girl, but tests revealed she was a he.