Scarlet ibis Cherry still a free bird after Edinburgh zoo escape

ZOOKEEPERS are continuing the search for a rogue scarlet ibis that has made it more than seven miles away from its enclosure over the past day.

The cheeky bird, known as Cherry, was spotted by residents perching on a Matalan roof in Seafield after a squirrel helped it escape from its cage on Tuesday by chewing through its netting.

The bright red feathered creature, which has been seen by dozens of bemused people since its escape, disappeared out of sight in the middle of the afternoon.

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The ibis originally escaped from the zoo – with the help of the mischievous squirrel – on Tuesday morning. It was first spotted in the car park of a New Town dentist, Cherrybank Dental Spa, on Dundas Street.

Its keepers are growing increasingly worried for its welfare as it faces attacks from seagulls and other wild birds due to its bright plumage.

Several zoo workers and staff from the Scottish SPCA have tried to coax it down from roofs across Seafield using pots of mussels and prawns, but so far it has failed to peck.

It remains on the run, and keepers are hopeful they will capture the long-beaked beauty today.

Paul Thomas, 29, from Tranent, said he was shocked to see a bird “the colour of a pillar box” perched on the roof at Edinburgh’s Dog and Cat Home, on Seafield Road.

He said: “I was quite shocked to begin with because it’s so bright, and it’s not like you see them flying around every day. I thought perhaps it’d got lost on its travels, but I was later told it had escaped from the zoo.

“It stood right out because it is the colour of a pillar box. I took some photos, and then later on I went back and took some more as it hadn’t moved.”

Shortly after 2pm yesterday the ibis, which originates from South America or the Caribbean, was seen on the bridge close to the Seafield sewage works, and there have been limited sightings ever since.

Zoo bosses are encouraging anybody who has seen the bird to get in touch so that keepers can try again to net it today.

A spokeswoman said: “If he does decide to fly off, he’s likely to end up in a totally different place very quickly as it’s fairly windy [yesterday].

“Keeping staff use little plastic pots with prawns and mussels inside at the zoo to feed him, so that’s what the keepers are using to tempt him down.

“There are weighted nets over the tubs so if the bird settles they will be able to pull them down and capture him.

“He’s been on the move, he’s been spotted on shops and on people’s houses.”

n Have you seen the scarlet ibis? Please send your pictures to the Edinburgh Evening News or give us a call on 0131-620 8741.