Omaha zoo’s great macaw escape, spurred by the Goodyear Blimp, has come to an end

Omaha zoo’s great macaw escape, spurred by the Goodyear Blimp, has come to an end
Cayenne, a green-winged macaw, flew away from the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium on Sunday morning. (World-Herald News Service)

Omaha’s great macaw escape has reached a happy ending.

On Sunday, during the 11 a.m. Birds of Flight show at the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, a green- winged macaw named Cayenne spotted something strange bubbling toward the zoo. The big bad Goodyear Blimp was in town, taking Jensen Tire employees for rides over the city, and it freaked her out.

She darted toward the southern horizon, escaping the free flight amphitheater and busting past the zoo’s boundaries. Zoo staff lost sight of her and worried she could find perch in Bellevue or beyond.

What commenced was a 21-hour search for the red, green and blue parrot. About 8:45 a.m. Monday, thanks to a neighbor’s tip, the zoo tracked her to the neighborhood immediately south of the zoo.

“We were actually noticing some unusual activity from a squirrel,” said Mandi Krebs, the zoo’s animal programs manager. “We saw this squirrel yelling at something, and we decided to investigate further. Then Cayenne flew out of that tree and was starting to head south again to another spot.”

The team followed Cayenne, found her in another tree then approached slowly. They called her down and, as Krebs put it, “she came right home.”

They returned her to the zoo. She immediately cuddled up to her sister Cali and started munching on treats.

Krebs said the zoo has no plans to change her routine or restrict her in any way. The show will go on and staff members will trust their protocols. Birds can be startled by new and unusual threats, such as a passing firetruck, a thrashing child or an ominous sponsored blimp, but Krebs said the zoo has a protocol in place to track down a lost bird, and it worked just as planned this time.

As for Cayenne, Monday wasn’t such a bad day after all. Rainstorms in Omaha meant she got the day off.

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