FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — Staff at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo called police Sunday morning after they noticed the lock to the Australian Asian Aviary was broken and two birds were missing.
“It’s a violation like you would be violated if somebody broke into your home, and our team here are heartbroken over these animals,” said Amos Morris, Deputy Director and COO of Fresno Chaffee Zoo.
The missing birds are a Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, which is a critically endangered species, and a Nicobar Pigeon, which is considered a near-threatened species.
“A cockatoo you would see in the pet trade. The pigeon on the other hand, not so much, more of a bird collector’s species,” said Morris.
Police are now investigating and reviewing surveillance video that captured the crime.
“It appears at about 4:00 this morning, an individual in all dark clothing, had a backpack on and a mask, jumped over the fence,” said Fresno Police Lt. Tim Tietjen.
Police said the suspect then broke the lock to the aviary, took the birds, jumped back over the fence about ten minutes later and ran away.
Now investigators are racing to find the birds before they’re possibly sold or traded on the black market.
The zoo staff is also worried about their health since both the male birds are elderly – about 27 and 32 years old – and were under veterinary care for age-related issues.
“We consider the animals under our care very special animals and devote a great deal of expense and energy in their well-being, so most of all, we’d like to see them come back to us so they can continue with their healthcare,” said Morris.
If you have any information about the missing birds, call Fresno Police.