Vandals strike Honolulu Zoo, exotic birds missing

Published: Mar. 27, 2012 at 9:10 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 28, 2012 at 6:13 AM HST
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Shannon Yates & her two sons
Shannon Yates & her two sons
A gray Tawny Frogmouth
A gray Tawny Frogmouth

WAIKIKI (HawaiinewsNow) - Three exotic birds are on the loose after vandals cut holes in wire cages at the Honolulu Zoo. Authorities are now searching for the birds and the suspects. According to the zoo, the crime happened sometime between 6:30 p.m. on Monday and 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday. A groundskeeper spotted the holes and started stuffing them with trash bags to prevent more birds from flying away.

Shannon Yates brings her sons to the Honolulu Zoo every couple of weeks.

"They like the animals and they like the playground," said the Waialae Iki resident. "It's just a nice place for them to kind of run around freely."

But now three of the zoo's exotic birds are missing. Workers had to patch up holes in 24 wire cages.

"In this case, it was pretty extensive and then bending the wire in towards the cage, creating an opening where birds could fly out," said assistant zoo director Tommy Higashino as he pointed to one of the larger holes.

One bird that got away is a gray Tawny Frogmouth. Zoo workers hand-fed the animal. A red Solomon Island Eclectus Parrot also escaped, but there have been sightings in Waikiki. The zoo is also looking for a brown Buff-headed Ground Dove.

"We do our best to maintain these birds for the public, and to have someone perpetrate this crime is actually a crime against the public and our taxpayers," said Higashino.

The temporary patches for the damaged cages cost roughly $500. The zoo estimates the price tag to replace the wire panels will be at least $15,000 to $20,000.

"I think it's very disappointing. It's a shame. It seems like a waste to have to go through all of those repairs. It seems like money that could be spent better somewhere else at the zoo," said Yates.

The last time vandals struck the zoo was in 2009. Three dozen glass panels around animal closures were scratched and tagged with graffiti. After this latest crime, the zoo plans to boost security.

"We checked the perimeter fence, did not find any breaches, nor were there barbed wire pushed down so it's possible they could have been hiding here until dark," said Higashino.

Call the zoo at 971-7174 if you see one of the missing birds or if you have information about the vandalism. You can also contact CrimeStoppers at 955-8300.

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