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STOCKHOLM

Giant owl still on the loose after escape from Stockholm zoo 

One of the two great grey owls which escaped from Stockholm’s Skansen Zoo on Monday night was still free on Wednesday morning, zoo officials said.

Giant owl still on the loose after escape from Stockholm zoo 
A great grey owl spotted in a park in Malmö back in 2021. This is not one of the Skansen owls who escaped in November 2022. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

The owls are members of the world’s largest owl species, which is sometimes known as “The Phantom of the North”. They escaped on Monday night after the netting over their enclosure broke. 

“During the night our enclosure collapsed due to the weight of the snow which produced a huge hole. I can see why the owls escaped, there wasn’t so much left of it,” Linda Törngren from Skansen Zoo told TT.

Once darkness fell it was impossible to continue the search, with Törngren saying at the time that “it doesn’t look good.”

The escape comes less than a month after a king cobra, dubbed by Swedish media as Sir Väs, escaped from the next-door Skansen Akvariet. 

On Wednesday morning, the zoo reported that one of the owls, named Percy, was back again, while his son Barr remains on the loose.

Percy was caught after a zoo employee caught sight of him on the Skansen site, after which zookeepers managed to entice him back into his enclosure.

“The birds are so well-trained by keepers that it was possible to get him down using a signal they’re used to hearing,” Törngren said.

Percy is doing fine after the ordeal, she said.

“He’s safe and sound and he’s had some food.”

Great grey owls are solitary animals, so it’s possible that the other owl, Barr, escaped in a different direction when the enclosure broke.

“It was probably a bit of a shock when the enclosure broke, it was their home. They probably just escaped in whatever direction they could, sitting in the first tree they happened to end up in.”

Skansen said on their website that the owls “bunch themselves up when they get scared and look like a small branch”.

Great grey owls are originally from Norrland so they are used to the current snowy weather Stockholm is experiencing. They can survive without food for long periods and are expert hunters of small rodents.

“They are absolutely not dangerous unless you are a small rodent,” Törngren said. “They are extremely used to people and very friendly.” 

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STOCKHOLM

‘Houdini’ cobra returns to enclosure at Swedish zoo

After a week of evading staff and sophisticated customs equipment in the nooks and crannies of a Stockholm aquarium, a king cobra returned to its enclosure on its own, officials said on Sunday.

'Houdini' cobra returns to enclosure at Swedish zoo

“We got him back!” the Skansen Aquarium said in a statement Sunday.

The snake, named Sir Väs (Sir Hiss), slithered off last weekend through a lamp fixture in a terrarium where he had been brought to a few days earlier.

Following the disappearing act, the venomous vagrant was renamed Houdini, in honour of the famed human escape artist.

The aquarium’s reptile section was closed off and staff spread flour and deployed sticky traps to try and capture the scaly fugitive.

When that didn’t work, the aquarium deployed special cameras and got help from Swedish customs agents who used handheld X-ray machines.

The sneaky serpent was finally found to be hiding inside an interior wall.

“The clever Houdini however moved several times when we sawed open several holes to get to him,” the aquarium said.

At one point, the runaway reptile even stuck his head out of a hatch.

“Then he realised that customs agents were in the building and quickly moved to the next hiding spot,” the zoo said, adding that “you can run from customs, but you can’t hide.”

Overnight Saturday/Sunday, the snake apparently decided to give up the life of an outlaw.

READ ALSO: Highly venomous king cobra still at large at Stockholm zoo

“It turned out that he had given up and crawled back to his safe and warm home,” the aquarium said.

While the reptile section was again open to the public, Houdini has been placed under “house arrest” for observation and would not be on view to visitors until Monday, it said.

King cobras, originally from South and Southeast Asia, are the world’s longest venomous snakes.

They mainly prey on other snakes but their bites can be fatal to humans if untreated.

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