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Aviary Executive Director Says Bringing Kody Home Was A 'Tremendous Team Effort'

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The National Aviary will reopen to the public on Thursday after staff members have had time to rest following the extensive search and capture of Kodiak, the escaped Steller's Sea Eagle.

The National Aviary is thanking the public for the hundreds of tips they've received since Kody's escape on Sept. 25.

The staff says without those tips it would not have been possible to bring Kody back home.

"[I'm] extremely grateful and relieved that Kodiak is back home," said an emotional Cathy Schlott, the director of Animal Programs and Experiences at the Aviary. "He's a really great bird."

Schlott says they kept track of Kody's nine-day adventure with a map and timeline. One night, Aviary staff members even camped out at Kody's roost. Schlott says that provided them with invaluable information that eventually lead to his capture.

They say Kody showed all the signs of thriving during his time out in the wild.

"He was doing okay out there. He had solid flight muscles. He was able to soar. He was able to fly," Schlott said during a Monday morning press conference.

(Photo Credit: National Aviary)

Aviary Executive Director Cheryl Tracy calls it a tremendous team effort. She says her staff is remarkable.

Of his capture, Schlott says it started with a tip from a family in Pine Township. The Aviary says Kody "gradually began traveling farther north" from the North Side, going from Riverview Park to North Park and finding green spaces along the way to rest.

After getting the tip from Pine Township, the Aviary staff was able to rush to the scene.

Schlott says one of their aviculturalists, who is familiar with Kody, was able to make eye contact with him and keep him calm.

Another staff member moved in with a soft net, held position, and then went for the capture. They then placed Kody in one of his carriers.

Schlott says they monitored Kody's comfort level all the way back to the Aviary.

"I just really want to say a heartfelt thank you to the entire community that was behind us, that were sending in tips, that were talking to us, supporting us through this entire effort. We would not be here, successful without you, so thank you very, very much for helping bring Kodiak back home to us," Schlott said.

WEB EXTRA: Kody's Capture Caught On Camera --

(Video provided by KDKA Viewer Heather Galleher)

The Aviary's head veterinarian is now monitoring him and says he appears to be perfectly health.

"There is not a scratch on him. There are no injuries," Schlott said.

Kody won't be back in his habitat for a while yet. Aviary officials say they are repairing and renovating his home. Schlott says that could take a while due to supply shortages.

She says they will also add a double layer of protection to his habitat.

In a statement the National Aviary says, "Repairs will include an even stronger material for the roof and an additional net for added safety. All of the habitats at the National Aviary are designed with the comfort and safety of the birds as the highest priority, and this is the first time an incident of this nature has occurred. It is still unclear how Kodiak was able to get out of his habitat, and we may not have additional information. The entire team is incredibly relieved and grateful for Kody's safe return, and his welfare continues to be our unwavering focus."

Once that is done, the public will be able to see Kody at the Aviary once again.

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