|Rufus the hawk overlooks the tennis courts at Wimbledon. Photograph: Ian Walton/Getty Images|
Police appeal for help finding bird of prey who keeps pigeons away from All England Club during tennis tournament
The bird of prey that patrols the skies of Wimbledon has been stolen.
Rufus, a Harris hawk who keeps pigeons away from the All England Club, was stolen along with his cage overnight between Thursday and Friday.
Detectives are investigating the theft and have appealed for help from members of the public to find the missing bird.
A police spokesman said Rufus was taken from a car parked on a private drive in Dunstall Road, Wimbledon, with the rear window open for ventilation.
The hawk, which deters pigeons purely by his presence, is also a family pet, he said.
"The family has become very attached to the bird, who is now four and a half years old.
"They are distressed over the theft and are appealing for help to recover the bird."
Rufus has become a well-known fixture at the south-west London club, with visitors often stopping to ask for photos with the hawk. He even has his own Twitter account.
His owner, Imogen Davis, 25, said: "It's really, really sad. He was taken in his travelling box, which is where he sleeps because it's nice and dark and cool and he can fall asleep in there."
She said a falconry glove and hood were stolen at the same time.
Hawking was first introduced to the All England Club in 1999. Hawks are trained not to attack but to circle the courts to scare pigeons.
Rufus was flown each morning and evening of the tournament, but not during play so as to avoid any distraction.
News by Guardian
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