A PLUCKY duck that escaped from Newquay Zoo a month ago has finally been recaptured after being spotted by a Cornish Guardian photographer, who was out walking his dog.
After being given the tip-off by our snapper Terry Barnecutt, zookeepers spent a gruelling five hours pedalling up and down Trenance boating lake in paddle boats on Sunday, before they were able to scoop up the hooded merganser with a net.
Lisa Chapman, a birdkeeper at Newquay Zoo, who was involved in the rescue mission, said: "It's fantastic. We're all absolutely over the moon that he's now been caught.
"We've been trying to find this bird since just before Christmas, and with a group of people with a plan, we managed to catch it."
Visitors to the lake had been trying to lure the bird to the water's edge with pieces of fish, but it had refused to budge from the middle.
"In the end we had to get into the boats, and it was quite funny because every time we got near it, he turned around and went the other way," said Lisa.
But it remains a mystery as to how the unusual-looking bird managed to escape from the zoo.
"We have a stream that goes through the zoo, and it's managed to climb up the bank at the main lake, and gone up the pathway. How it ended up at the boating lake, I don't know," she said.
Despite spending a month in the wild, the North American bird was found to be in good health, if a little plumper than before.
"There are plenty of fish in the lake, and I think lots of people have been feeding him bread, too. He's been given a really good feed, but he's back on his normal diet," said Lisa.
The bird has now been safely returned to the zoo's lake, where he was reunited with his feathered friends.
"We have one other male and two females, so he's back at the lake with them," added Lisa. "It's hard to tell, but he seemed really pleased to see the other mergansers."