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Burrowing owl hitches ride aboard Royal Caribbean cruise ship for two weeks

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(NEW YORK) — A member of a threatened owl species couldn’t resist the chance to join vacationers aboard a cruise liner, evading capture for weeks.

A “wayward” burrowing owl hitched a ride on the Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas and remained on board for two weeks, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission said on Facebook.

Throughout its stay, the owl made his presence known to other guests by perching on exit signs, resting on railings and peaking through planters, according to the state wildlife agency.

Biologist Ricardo Zambrano was brought on board after receiving a call from the ship’s environmental officer.

During the one-hour window of time between passengers disembarking and new passengers arriving for the next cruise to Mexico, Zambrano placed mist nets around the owl’s perch of choice, according to FWC.

The third attempt of capture was the charm. As the owl sat on a balcony on the 10th floor, crew members standing below made noise to distract it while Zambrano snuck up behind the bird of prey and safely netted it from the railing, the agency said.

“After the amazing rescue, the cute little stowaway was safely assisted with the disembarkation process,” the conservation commission wrote. “He had nothing to claim in customs.”

The owl seemed to be in good health but was transported to the South Florida Wildlife Center as a precautionary measure.

Burrowing owl populations around the world are decreasing, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. The owl species is listed as endangered in Canada and threatened in Mexico, according to the Burrowing Owl Conservation Network.

In the U.S., the burrowing owl is listed as endangered in Minnesota, threatened in Colorado and Florida and as a species of concern in Arizona, California, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, according to the network.

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