An owl has been stolen from a rescue centre leaving his mate of 18 years “devastated”.
Police are investigating the theft of a Eurasian eagle owl called Maximus from his cage at the Blue Highlands Raptor Rescue and Avian Conservation Centre in Brora, Sutherland, on Monday night.
The centre’s director Hadassah Broscova-Righetti said Maximus’ partner Victoria is heartbroken and added: “She’s been crying all night and she won’t eat.
“In 22 and a half years of bird rescue, this is the first time we’ve had someone even try to steal a bird from us, it’s heartbreaking.
“This is our job, we do this 24 hours a day. It’s like one of our children being stolen.”
The theft is believed to have occurred between 9.30pm on Monday and 7.30am on Tuesday.
Officers issued an appeal for information regarding the Eurasian eagle owl on Wednesday.
Ms Broscova-Righetti said it is unlikely the bird has been released and urged people in the area not to buy any owl and specifically not a Eurasian eagle owl.
She added: “Birds won’t just leave because a door is open, they are happy here. The lock’s been taken off.
“He’s a hard bird to hide. He weighs around 2kg. If anyone has him, they will have a difficult time hiding him.
“Please don’t buy any owl or any Eurasian Eagle Owl.”
The Euriasian Eagle Owl is one of the largest living species of owl in the world and is protected.
It has orange eyes and distinctive feathery ear tufts, and can have a wing span of up to 6ft 6in.
If anyone has any information about the theft contact police on 101.