North Carolina Zoo asking for public’s help locating two missing African birds

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A secretary bird is pictured at the zoo of the French eastern city of Amneville, on July 8, 2013. JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN/AFP/Getty Images.

ASHEBORO, N.C. — Two African birds have gone missing from the North Carolina Zoo, and now zoo officials are asking the public for help in finding them.

On May 26, two secretary birds left their behind-the-scenes habitat through an egress that was not tightly secured, and then blown open by gusty winds that topped 30 mph, zoo officials posted Monday on their Facebook page.

The secretary birds are not a danger to the general public, pets or farm animals, zoo officials said. Secretary birds will avoid people and feed on snakes and frogs.

The zoo has set up a hotline to call with sightings: (336) 879-7610. The zoo has a team searching the area, and spotted the birds several times over the past few days.

Secretary birds, long-legged birds native to Africa, grow to an average of four- to five-feet-tall. Their bodies are light gray in color – a stark contrast to their long, dark tail feathers. Their faces are bare, with red/orange skin. In addition to their long legs, their most notable feature is a series of black, quill-like crest of feathers on the back of their heads that fan out when they encounter prey. While they can fly, they do not hunt for their food in flight. They hunt on foot and feed on a diet of snakes (both venomous and non-venomous), rodents, amphibians and large insects.

If the birds are spotted, please do not approach the birds, but call the hotline: (336) 879-7610.

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