A missing parrot that was found wandering around Dublin Airport’s runway has been reunited with its relieved owner after the pet recognised a foreign language it was taught.
Dublin Airport and supermarket Lidl teamed up to help locate the female bird’s rightful owner on Tuesday after rescuing it last weekend.
However, the appeal resulted in four potential owners of the missing African Grey parrot coming forward.
The parrot had a ring with a unique identification number, but none of the four potential owners could supply that key piece of information.
Dublin Airport and the Kildare Animal Foundation were forced to act as pet detectives in the case.
Lubomir Michna, who is one of those who came forward, is originally from Slovakia and said he had taught Hugo a few words of Slovak.
Officials from the airport suggested that Lubomir record an audio clip which could be played for the bird.
Dan Donoher, from Kildare Animal Foundation, said it was clear from the clip that Lubomir was definitely Hugo’s owner.
“When the voice recording was sent to me and I played it for Hugo she reacted instantly and became animated and excited,” he said.
“There was no doubt in my mind that Lubomir was her rightful owner.”
When Lubomir arrived to collect his pet, Hugo was thrilled.
Dan added: “As soon as the carrier was opened, Hugo jumped onto Lubomir’s arm and cuddled into his neck.
“You could see they have a really close bond, it was lovely.”
Hugo had been spotted walking along the eastern end of Dublin Airport’s main runway by airport fire fighter Craig Wade last Sunday evening.
Craig and a colleague were carrying out a routine runway safety inspection at the time.
“It was immediately obvious that she was a pet,” Craig said.
“A live runway wasn’t a safe place for her, so after some difficulty, we eventually coaxed her into a makeshift carrier that we made from a cardboard box and got her safely to our fire station.”
Craig contacted the Kildare Animal Foundation and they kindly agreed to care for the parrot until her owner could be found.
“They were great, and couldn’t have been more helpful,” Craig said.
The airport launched a social media campaign which was picked up by Lidl.
They informed the airport that a poster of a missing parrot had been on display in the chain’s Finglas store, some 2.5 miles (4km) away
The parrot’s owner said he was “so happy” to get “his baby” back.
Lubomir said Hugo had escaped from his house in Finglas at about 4pm on Saturday afternoon after a door was mistakenly left open.
Lubomir has had Hugo for two years and she goes everywhere with him – even on his shoulder when he goes shopping.
According to Lubomir, something frightened Hugo last Saturday and she flew off.
Lubomir thanked Dublin Airport and the Kildare Animal Foundation for finding and looking after Hugo in recent days.
He plans to meet Craig, the fire fighter who rescued her, shortly to thank him in person.