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Dublin's 'pet detectives' identify parrot owner using Slovak voice recordings

Dublin's 'pet detectives' identify parrot owner using Slovak voice recordings
Copyright Dublin Airport
Copyright Dublin Airport
By Rachael Kennedy
Published on Updated
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Dublin Airport has reunited a parrot found on a runway and its owner following a days-long search. Several people came forward to claim Hugo, but how did the airport's "pet detectives" find the right person?


Slovak voice recordings have helped identify the rightful owner of a parrot found at Dublin Airport earlier this week, following a social media campaign, several claims of ownership and a 'Lidl' help from a German supermarket.

The African grey parrot was discovered during a runway inspection on Sunday evening, prompting the airport to launch a social media appeal for her owner.

Among the responses came help from an unlikely corner as Lidl supermarket responded to say a "missing parrot" poster had been seen in one of its stores situated nearby.

"We called the number [on the poster] to check, and it's his parrot!" the supermarket chain told the airport, promising to send along the person's details.

But the saga did not end there.

Dublin Airport said on Wednesday that the parrot had still not been reunited with her owner as four people had, in fact, come forward to claim the critter.

Animal experts told Euronews that a unique identification number on the bird's ring should have simplified the process, but Dublin Airport said none of the four potential owners could provide this information.

Focusing the investigation toward the man who created the missing parrot poster, Dublin Airport staff-turned-pet-detectives asked for more information about his missing friend.

The man, Lubomir Michna, who is originally from Slovakia, said he had taught his African grey, named Hugo, several words of his native language during his two years of ownership.

She escaped on Saturday afternoon after becoming frightened by something, which caused her to fly off, Michna explained.

After sending some voice recordings over to Dublin Airport, animal experts assisting in the investigation said they had "no doubt" that Michna was the rightful owner.

"When the voice recording was sent to me and I played it for Hugo she reacted instantly and became animated and excited," Dan Donoher of the Kildare Animal Foundation said.

Michna was said to be "thrilled" when he later arrived to collect Hugo.

"As soon as the carrier was opened, Hugo jumped onto Lubomir’s arm and cuddled into his neck. You could see they have a really close bond, it was lovely,” Donoher said.

How common is it to lose a parrot?

Many people watching the drama unfold over Hugo's many potential owners began asking the looming question — how often do people actually lose parrots?


Euronews spoke to Birdline Parrot Rescue, which suggested such escapes aren't that uncommon.

"We usually have birds escape in spring or summer when people leave their windows open and forget their bird is out," the group said.

But "African greys are highly intelligent and have the brain power of a five-year-old."

"Intelligent birds can even open their own cage doors, especially cockatoos who are equally intelligent."


These highly-intelligent birds are particularly popular as pets due to both their ability to repeat sounds and their "most charming character," a number of experts have said.

"Because of their intelligence," Birdline Parrot Rescue added, "We get a lot of greys in where people haven’t appreciated that they have taken in a five-year-old child that can fly and has a tin opener for a beak."

There have been many high-profile escapes in recent years, such as Nigel, the escaped British parrot that returned after four years and began speaking Spanish, or the Monty Python-mimicking Charlie, from Lincolnshire.

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