Fly-by-night thieves bring Horace home for auctions

The remorseful perpetrators of the theft returned Horace with a 'sorry' note
The remorseful perpetrators of the theft returned Horace with a 'sorry' note
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IF the police ever catch up with his kidnappers, they’ll all be doing bird.

Horace the hornbill – the wooden bird ripped from his city centre post last week – has been returned by the guilt- ridden thieves responsible.

Four-foot Horace, one of the Jungle City sculptures currently dotted around the Capital, was ripped from his Dundas Street perch last Thursday night, leaving only his feet behind.

But yesterday he was discovered by Dovecot Cafe owner, Richard Conway, lying in Infirmary Street wrapped in black bags. Attached to the sculpture, which was designed by artist David Michie, was the remorseful message: “REALLY SORRY. A TERRIBLE DRUNKEN MISTAKE. SORRY”.

Horace is now set to revisit the Scottish Gallery – the scene of the kidnapping – where he will enjoy a month’s stay within the safe confines of the foyer before being auctioned off for charity as planned in October.

The News told on Saturday how the thieves had waited until gallery workers went home on Thursday night before snatching the bird, which is expected to fetch around £5000 at auction.

An appeal was issued to the thieves to return Horace via taxi to Dovecot Studios, where he could be repaired.

Work will now be undertaken to re-attach his talons before he goes under the hammer.

Mark Shand, founder of Elephant Family, a charity raising money for endangered Asian animals through the Jungle City project, said: “I am relieved that Horace has been returned to Dovecot Studios this morning.

“I am glad that whoever took him found it in their conscience to return him to raise funds for critically endangered Asian wildlife and our experience in Edinburgh has not been marred.

“All that is left to do is to return Horace to full glory, and his notoriety will only increase his value.”

He added: “There will be a final farewell to the animals in Dovecot Studios from October 28 to [November] 1 inclusive.”

A Scottish Gallery spokeswoman said they were “thrilled” to have Horace back and stressed he would now be kept inside for his own safety.

“The people who took him must have read the Evening News and thought ‘Dear Lord, what have we done?’. Horace may need some plasters for his feet or a touch-up but we’re pleased he’s back.”

The Jungle City project has caused quite a stir, with 130 colourful animals dotted across the city. Those interested in buying one of the sculptures can bid online from September 22 or in person at The Great Jungle City Gathering dinner. Bidding closes on October 2.

david.mccann@edinburghnews.com