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Exotic birds escape storm-damaged aviary at Oakland Zoo

PIX Now 11:08

OAKLAND -- Armed with nets and cages, workers at the Oakland Zoo will continue to search the grounds Thursday for six exotic birds, including an endangered hooded vulture, that escaped from  their storm damaged aviary.

African hooded vulture at Oakland Zoo
Oliver, a male African hooded vulture, roosts on a tree limb at the zoo in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, March 23, 2023. Officials were working Thursday to capture the endangered hooded vulture that escaped from a zoo aviary that was destroyed after a massive tree fell on it during a storm this week. Oakland Zoo via AP

At the height of Tuesday's fearsome and deadly wind storm, a massive tree toppled into the aviary, ripping the netting and giving the birds an escape route. The birds that got out were an endangered male African hooded vulture and five other exotic birds, including two pied crows and three superb starlings.

"Our animal care team has been taking nonstop shifts to retrieve all 6 birds, who are staying nearby," Zoo officials tweeted. "None have left Zoo grounds. We're confident we'll be able to recover all 6 soon."

Fallen tree at Oakland Zoo
Fallen tree at Oakland Zoo Oakland Zoo

The grounds of the zoo have been closed since the storm toppled several trees during the storm.

 At least five people were killed in the Bay Area from toppled trees during the violent "bomb cyclone" storm packing gale-force winds that left widespread destruction across the region.

"Wow, even by the standards of what has turned out to be one of our most extraordinary winter seasons in a very long time, yesterday stands out," the National Weather Service said of the storm. "Explosive cyclogenesis over the eastern Pacific resulted in a 984 mb low-pressure center just west of the San Mateo County coast, and associated widespread strong and damaging winds and flooding rains."

At the zoo, the trees did not injure any of the animals.

"Fortunately, no animals were injured," officials tweeted.

The new aviary, which houses 20 birds, was built in 2021. It featured a mesh covering that was shredded by the falling tree.

"None of these birds pose a threat to the public, other Zoo animals, or our native wildlife," officials tweeted. "While we repair the damage to the aviary, parts of the African Savanna may be closed to the public."

Zoo officials confirmed Thursday afternoon that they had recovered three superb starlings, who they said had not strayed far from the damaged aviary. Those birds were being evaluated at the zoo's veterinary hospital. Zoo workers were still searching for the hooded vulture and the two pied crows.

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