American bald eagle escapes from Cumbernauld shelter

AN AMERICAN bald eagle is on the loose after escaping from a bird of prey centre.

The eagle, named Alaska, is thought to have bitten through his leather jesses at World of Wings in Cumbernauld. The bird, which has a 7ft wingspan, has been a leading attraction at the centre for five years.

He escaped from his shelter and circled over a group of 60 schoolchildren yesterday who were watching a buzzard display, before flying off to woods a mile away. He was last seen on a treetop at Tannoch Stables, near Palacerigg Country Park.

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The centre’s director, David Ritchie, said: “Alaska was tethered in his shelter when he suddenly escaped. He somehow snapped his jesses – it’s highly unusual for one to snap and unheard of for both, but he might have bitten through them.

“We chased him up to a wooded area about a mile from the centre, but lost sight of him in the trees.”

Alaska was hatched in the Netherlands in 2006 and brought to Scotland five years ago. Mr Ritchie said the bird has never had to hunt for himself and he was unlikely to approach people, adding: “Despite his huge size, he’s quite a nervous bird. He’ll most likely find somewhere to roost and stay there.”