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So... what kind of lovebird are you? Cruella ruffles a few feathers.

Byline: DAVE ROBSON

A PAIR of lovebirds are getting ready to snuggle up this Valentine's Day.

But while they're getting all lovey-dovey, Cruella the hornbill is nursing a broken heart.

The pair of ashy faced owls are the latest arrivals at Redcar's Kirkleatham Owl Centre.

In their native Dominican Republic, they're becoming an endangered species so it's hoped the pair will breed soon.

They arrived from the World Owl Trust in Cumbria, and have just gone on public view. But because they spend a lot of time tucked up in their nestbox, visitors may be lucky to spot them.

Cruella the ground hornbill, on the other hand, wears her heart on her sleeve - or on her beak, to be more precise.

Two years ago, the Gazette featured Cruella's arrival with a male, Gilbert. Sadly, the two didn't hit it off - apart from in the violent sense of the word, with Cruella doing her best to beat him up.

Gilbert has now left for a new home at London Zoo, leaving Cruella all by herself. And to make her feel worse, she's one of few birds at the centre without a sponsor.

Eager to cheer her up, I popped in to Cruella's cage with a Valentine's heart.

And I think she liked me.

Within minutes, using a technique well honed over the years, I was scratching her neck vigorously.

My heart was in my mouth.

And, before long, the corny pink Valentine's heart I'd brought was in hers.

But when the centre's Craig Wesson explained her flapping wings were a mating ritual, it was time to make a sharp exit!

* The centre is open daily from Monday during half-term, with flying demonstrations at 2.30pm. * To sponsor the owls or Cruella, call 01642 480512. For information, visit www.kirkleathamowlcentre.org.uk

CAPTION(S):

WIT TO WOO: While Kirkleatham's ashy faced owls, below, new arrivals from the Caribbean, will be hoping to get it together, Cruella and her beau failed to hit it off, as we reported two years ago, above Pictures by IAN McINTYRE GENTLY DOES IT: Reporter Dave Robson gets up close with Cruella the hornbill, who just seems determined to end up with a broken heart TOGETHERNESS IS... A trek up Mount Kilimanjaro for Andy Connor and wife Mandy, whose brave battle against cancer and fundraising determination we told of last year, inset below
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Feb 13, 2010
Words:395
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