Carnivorous bird kookaburra escapes from zoo

Kookaburras have a unique blue patch on their wings. Picture: Comp
Kookaburras have a unique blue patch on their wings. Picture: Comp
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A LAUGHING killer bird is on the loose after escaping from the Five Sisters Zoo.

A Kookaburra, named Chuckles, is on the loose in West Lothian after its enclosure was damaged by high winds at the weekend.

Despite being the subject of a popular nursery rhyme the Australian bird is anything but cuddly and is known to attack and eat smaller birds.

The carnivorous bird’s distinctive call, which sounds like hysterical human laughing, has been heard near the zoo raising hopes that Chuckles has not flown too far.

As well as their echoing cackle, Kookaburras have a distinctive blue patch on their wings which makes them easily recognisable.

The birds are known to eat other birds along with mice, snakes and small reptiles. When in captivity, they are often fed food for birds of prey.

The popular Australian nursery rhyme “Kookaburra” ironically includes the line “Wait, Kookaburra! Stop, Kookaburra!”

Jay Wood, manager at Five Sisters Zoo, said that Chuckles is a “friendly” bird and will be getting worried that he is in an unfamiliar area.

Mr Wood also said that keepers would be going out to look for the animal if he does not return to his enclosure to roost.

He said high winds had blown the roof off Chuckles’ enclosure: “We had some pretty bizarre winds.

“We generally go round and do safety checks - we thought everything was fairly well held down.

“But gusts of wind must have caught the roofing of the house he shared.”

Chuckles survived the fire which devastated parts of the zoo in April last year as his enclosure, which he shares with pheasants, was not near the blaze.

The carnivore, which is around 45cm long, will not try to attack animals which are bigger than him, Mr Wood said.

He said: “They do tend to eat smaller rodents and birds. If he’s hungry he’s going to look to attack mice or rates or smaller birds.

“But at the moment he’s probably quite worried that he’s not in familiar surroundings.”

He added: “He’s not an aggressive bird, he’s quite friendly.”

A post on the zoo’s Facebook group said: “Disaster struck during the night as the high winds damaged the roof of the Kookaburra enclosure and he flew off.

“We’ve heard him this morning, so he’s still close by but would ask if anyone either hears or sees him to please let us know asap. 01506 870000”