If missing raven is not returned home to Montreal-area zoo, he will die, staff say

The Ecomuseum Zoo on Montreal's West Island had a most unwelcome visitor overnight between Monday and Tuesday this week that could read straight out of a tale by Edgar Allan Poe.

No, the visitor was not trying to break COVID-19 health measures and tour the zoo, which is closed until January along with all attractions of its kind.

Rather, and more disturbingly, someone appears to have broken into the zoo in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, and either made off with or caused the escape of Kola, a raven that has called the zoo home for the past four years.

"The last two days were busy coordinating with the authorities and adding additional security equipment around the site, and we want you to rest assured that we are investigating the situation," reads a news release from Ecomuseum executive director David Rodrigue, who added that any useful information will be kept anonymous.

The release says that someone used force to break into the raven's aviary, and that the bird was either taken or left its living space on its own.

Kola is a rescue bird who had a broken wing and other injuries when the Ecomuseum took him into its care.

His injuries made it impossible for him to survive on his own in the wild.

"He has chronic health issues that were well controlled in our care through daily medication," said Rodrigue. "Kola was in our care so that his well-being would be ensured, something we take very seriously."

There are no suspects, and the zoo is unsure whether those who broke in intended to steal the raven or "the heinous behaviour of someone hoping to draw attention and make a point about animals in professional human care."

Rodrigue was clear about what will happen to Kola if he is not returned promptly.

"This will most likely be a death sentence for Kola; pure and simple," he said. "If you took Kola and have him in your care, he is unlikely to live for long. His daily medications are specific and essential to his well-being."

Kola is not a domesticated pet, Rodrigue added, asking simply that he is returned.

"We will not let you in, but we will gladly welcome Kola and refrain from judging you," he said. "If you have committed this act with the intent of “freeing” Kola and sending out a message about animals in professional human care, please know without a shred of doubt that Kola will die as a result of your actions. You are a disgrace to the message you aim to carry, and to the very idea of animal welfare." 

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