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Joy over Flipper's return; Stolen eagle owl comes home - 13 months later.

Byline: By DAVID POWELL

A EUROPEAN eagle owl snatched from a North Wales aviary was last night back home.

Flipper was spotted sitting on a rockery in a Llandudno garden more than 13 months after he vanished.

Pam Broughton, of the Bodafon Farm Park-based North Wales Bird Trust, quickly recaptured the 2.5ft tall owl.

And she said the somewhat bedraggled Flipper, who has a 7ft wing spanwas glad to be back home. Pam said: "We caught him in a rockery by the side of Bodafon Farm Park and took him home.

"I would like to say thank you to Daily Post readers. Everybody knew he was missing and was looking out for him.

"It's amazing and unbelievable. He's been missing for 13 months.

"He's lost weight and is a shadow of his former self. He wanted to come home." Pam said the thief may have found Flipper too much to cope with.

She added: "I think somebody local stole him and couldn't handle him or just got worried."

But Bird Trust bosses are still concerned about two other owls stolen last month.

The rare, six-year-old ashy-faced barn owls, worth pounds 3,000 each, were seized from a specially-built Penmaenmawr aviary on September 7.

They are officially classified as endangered by conservationists desperately trying to save the birds from extinction.

The pair were part of a major conservation project launched by the North Wales Bird Trust in a last ditch bid to re-establish the owls in their native Dominican Republic.

Pam's husband Bill Broughton branded the thieves "despicable".

He said: "We had great hopes for our part of the project.

"We brought the pair together about 12 months ago, one from Belgium and the other from Germany, in the hope they would breed.

"We had planned to send their offspring to the Dominican Republic."

North Wales Police wildlife and environmental crime officer Pete Charleston is heading the investigation.

It is feared the owls, also known as Hispaniolan or tylo glaucops, could have been stolen to order for a wealthy rare wild bird collector.

Anybody with information about the missing owls should contact Mr Charleston at the Countryside Council for Wales on 01248 385784. Or ring North Wales Police on 0845 6071001 (Welsh), 0845 6071002 (English) or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

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Eagle owl Flipper safe and well back home at Bodafon Farm Park with Bill Broughton of the North Wales Bird Trust
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 14, 2005
Words:404
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