A Peterborough man who thought he had lost his pet owl of 10 years for good enticed her back to him by throwing around a dead rat on a piece of string.
Passers-by in Priestgate got more than they bargained for from Mark Smith who used a rat he kept in his freezer to try and encourage his pet Bengal Benny down from on top of St James House (next to the former XXI Bar And Lounge) where she was perched.
Mark had lost Benny from his home in Burghley Road on Bonfire Night and had spent the following weeks in vain walking the streets of Peterborough to try and find her.
But just as his hopes of seeing Benny again appeared to be over, he was given information through a missing pets site on Facebook and the Independent Bird Register that she was located in the city centre.
And after four hours yesterday (Monday, December 14) and three today, Mark’s patience was finally rewarded when Benny came down from on top of the building which allowed him to attach her to the special glove he was wearing.
Mark (32) who was late for his job as a support worker yesterday as he desperately tried to entice Benny to him, said: “I feel great as you can imagine. She’s home in time for Christmas which is a nice surprise.
“She bounced off window sills before she got to the floor as it was too steep a drop.
“She was interested in the food but backed off when I tried to approach her. It took some gentle approaching and a last minute grab.”
Mark volunteered at the Raptor Foundation in St Ives where he met Benny. He said: “I was asked if I wanted to spend a bit more one-on-one time with her and after a while I started taking her home.”
Mark’s dad then built an aviary in Mark’s garden which he shares with partner Natasha Goodwin, who is “accustomed” to sharing Mark’s attentions with a pet bird.
But on Bonfire Night Mark was left fearing the worst after fireworks began going off nearby which led to Benny fleeing the house for the first time.
Mark said: “She was on my house roof until fireworks started going off and I lost site of her in the dark.
“By the time daylight came the next day she was nowhere to be seen.
“I’ve had her a long time and let her out every day, but this is the first time she had completely gone.
“I was searching in quieter areas looking at roof-tops to find her.
“I’ve found birds before that have been lost for a month. It’s not uncompletely unheard of to find birds after that time, but with her it was unknown. You never know what she would do.”