Brevard Zoo's escaped Southern ground hornbill recaptured, but dies

12:11 PM, Mar 29, 2011   |    comments
BB, a Southern ground hornbill, escaped from his exhibit in Expedition Africa because his feathers had grown out enough to allow him to fly.
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Suntree, Florida (Florida Today) -- Brevard Zoo's escaped bird died shortly after its recapture Friday, the zoo announced Monday.

BB, a Southern ground hornbill, escaped from his exhibit in Expedition Africa because his feathers had grown out enough to allow him to fly. The staff had tracked his location and twice tried and failed to capture him with a net gun.

See Also: From 2007 - Frisbee-catching hornbill

While they were able to feed him by hand, he would fly or run away to avoid capture, so they attempted to sedate him through his food. The first time, it wore off quickly.

Friday, zoo employees sedated the bird again through his food and captured him. He was never unconscious, but he did not come out of sedation, spokeswoman Andrea Hill said. Three hours later, at the zoo's hospital, BB went into cardio-pulmonary arrest and died.

This kind of sedation has been done before, Hill said, adding that darting the bird was not a good option.

"That's more traumatic," Hill said. "Birds don't have enough muscle mass. They can't always take the impact."

Although the zoo says it is likely the sedation contributed to BB's death, an examination by the zoo's veterinarian was inconclusive. "The necropsy did not show any underlying condition," Hill said.

Blood and tissue samples are undergoing further testing at outside labs. Results could take weeks.

In a press release, Executive Director Keith Winsten said: "We are deeply saddened at the loss of BB. This past month has truly been a community effort in watching over him. We want to thank the many residents of Baytree and Suntree who gave us daily reports of his whereabouts and activities. To finally capture him but then ultimately lose him a few hours later is devastating. We are reviewing our feather trimming protocols to make sure this kind of escape never happens again."

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Chris Kridler, Florida Today

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