Owl escapes through hole cut in cage

LARGO, Fla., Jan. 30 (UPI) -- A favorite owl at a Florida nature park has gone missing after someone cut a hole in his enclosure, and officials said they fear he won't come back.

Officials were notified Saturday morning that the great horned owl, named JR, had disappeared when a couple of visitors noticed the hole in the bird's 12-by-4-foot metal fence enclosure, the St. Peterburg (Fla.) Times reported Saturday.


For more than 10 years, visitors to the George C. McGough Nature Park in Largo came especially to see the multi-colored owl with big yellow eyes, the Times reported.

He was "usually the first thing people go see. He's just a fixture at the site," said Greg Brown, Largo's parks superintendent.

JR tumbled from his nest when he was a chick and never learned to hunt or live on his own. "He needs humans to survive, unfortunately," said Brown.

The owl was spotted in a tree a few hours later, and officials tried to lure him with food into a cage, but he flew away, the Times said.

Officials said they hope JR will get hungry enough to make his way into the cage –- if he can survive predators and starvation.


"Obviously they either tried to steal him and couldn't get him or they just thought he needed to be free," Brown said of whoever cut the enclosure.

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