A rare tropical bird has escaped from Edinburgh Zoo after a squirrel chewed through the roof of its enclosure.
The scarlet ibis, named Cherry because of its colour, is now being tracked by zookeepers anxious to protect it from predators.
It was first spotted three miles away in a city dentist's car park, but despite the best efforts of zoo staff and Scottish SPCA workers it has continued to evade recapture.
Steve Philip, a manager with Cherrybank Dental Spa, contacted the RSPB after spotting the tropical wader outside his office.
He said: "I was sat at my desk when it caught my eye, there usually wouldn't be a lot of colour in the car park.
"At first I thought it was an ornamental feature but then it moved. I couldn't believe it because it's such a bright distinctive red colour.
Mr Philip added that despite several attempts zookeepers have been unable to net the ibis.
The bird is about 2ft long and is native to South and Central America, particularly Trinidad & Tobago and Brazil.
Darren McGarry, head of animals at Edinburgh Zoo, confirmed the bird's escape attempt and said staff were worried about attacks by seagulls and other potential predators.
He said: "A small hole in the netting over the top of the enclosure was apparent this morning, so we think a squirrel must have chewed through it overnight.
"The ibis has obviously decided to make an escape and fly into the centre of Edinburgh to see what all the fuss is at this time of year.
"In all seriousness though, we are a bit concerned about the bird as it is so brightly coloured and could be attacked by other native birds.
"Together with the SSPCA our bird team have come close to capturing the bird but we haven't had success yet. The best to catch the bird will be when it comes down on its own or gets hungry."
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