A gyrfalcon from the Woodland Park Zoo flew off zoo grounds Tuesday afternoon and was later found dead on a residential street near Green Lake.
The 15-year-old female gyrfalcon was in the middle of a routine free flight training exercise with her keepers, when she flew off the grounds. A resident later found the dead bird, apparently hit by a car.
While the zoo raptors may occasionally fly off during a keeper-supervised free flight program, they usually return within hours. The zoo’s birds of prey are not trained to hunt and are accustomed to getting food from their keepers. The free flight program for raptors is an important part of Woodland Park Zoo’s excellent animal care program, as free flight provides essential exercise for the raptors’ physical and behavioral health.
This gyrfalcon has left zoo grounds twice before in 2003 and 2005, and was recovered both times at the King County Cedar Hills landfill in Maple Valley, Wash.