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Escaped Jacksonville Zoo Vulture Located

3:26 PM, Mar 2, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Hodari, the escaped Jacksonville Zoo African vulture has been possibly sighted.  In Central Florida.

According to a news release from Gina Stiles with the Jacksonville Zoo, the vulture was spotted last week near MacDill Air Force Base.

Hodari was spotted and photographed with Turkey vultures feeding on a carcass in north Avon Park.

Stiles said the zoo found out someone had spotted Hodari from a person at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm.  That person had been contacted by a PhD candidate from Cornell University who had taken a picture of what they thought was an African vulture.

Once experts determined it was an African vulture, they began looking for a zoo in Florida that was missing one.  That lead them to the Jacksonville Zoo.

"After looking at the photograph, it's obvious that Hodari's been eating well, and our bird curator said he looks like he's even had a bath," said executive director of Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens Tony Vecchio.  "It appears that our worries about how he would survive in the real world after being pampered by his keepers were unnecessary."

Vecchio also pointed out that, "he is a vulture, and that means that road kill armadillos and raccoons look like a feast to him."

Hodari escaped from the Giraffe Overlook exhibit at the Jacksonville Zoo after a restrictive band on a wing broke allowing him to escape.  The zoo received numerous tips and possible sightings from community members but none of them turned out to be the missing vulture.

Representatives from Disney World and the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have offered to assist the zoo in recapturing Hodari by using a net or safe trap.

The zoo hopes that Hodari will soon be back home at the Giraffe Overlook, reunited with his mate, the zoo's female African vulture Raja.

First Coast News

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