Northern Ireland

Griff the golden eagle escapes rescue centre home

mike gibb and griff the golden eagle Image copyright World of Owls/Mike Gibb
Image caption Mike Gibb said Griff should not pose a threat to the public

A golden eagle has gone missing from its County Antrim rescue centre home.

Griff has been on the loose for five days since escaping during cleaning at World of Owls in Randalstown on 23 May.

His owner, Mike Gibb, who has had the eagle for ten years, said he thought Griff was most likely within a ten mile radius of home.

"It's improbable he has moved beyond that. Improbable, but not impossible," he said.

Griff's owner has been joined by volunteers in searching for the eagle since his escape.

Mr Gibb said Griff, who boasts a 6ft (1.8m) wingspan, had been frightened by something while his enclosure was being cleaned.

Image copyright World of Owls/Mike Gibb
Image caption Griff's owners said it is very easy for the public to mistake a male golden eagle for a female buzzard

He said the bird's escape was "a total accident" and that it had been an emotionally tough few days since the bird went missing.

But he said the public's response had been heartening.

Sightings of Griff have been reported in Lisburn, Coleraine and even in Dublin since the golden eagle escaped.

"But we believe him to still be in and around the local area, likely within a one to ten mile radius of home, and somewhere between Randalstown and Toome," Mr Gibb said.

To a lay person, Griff's owner said, a male golden eagle could be mistaken for a female buzzard.

Image copyright World of Owls/Mike Gibb
Image caption Anyone who spots Griff is asked to contact World of Owls in Randalstown

Griff should not pose any threat to the public, he added.

"I've had him for ten years and he is a trained bird, not a hunting bird, and is as soft as butter," he said.

"If he gets hungry he will likely scavenge, likely look for road kill."

Mr Gibb remains optimistic Griff will be found and asked anyone who spots Griff to contact him

"He will fly straight to me, but he needs to see me to do that - he would even recognise my van. If anyone else were to make an approach, it is likely he will be scared off," he said.

Anyone who spots the golden eagle can contact Mr Gibb via the World of Owls Facebook page.

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