Slovak-speaking parrot found on airport runway reunited with owner

22 February 2019, 15:29 | Updated: 22 February 2019, 20:15

A missing parrot has been reunited with its owner after recognising the Slovakian language it was taught.

Hugo, a female African Grey parrot, was found wandering along Dublin Airport's main runway last weekend.

The airport and supermarket Lidl teamed up to locate the bird's rightful owner after her rescue, with the help of an animal sanctuary and modern technology.

The appeal resulted in four potential owners claiming the parrot was theirs, but none of them could supply the identification number on its ring.

Lubomir Michna, who is originally from Slovakia, told Hugo's rescuers that he had taught the parrot a few words in Slovak - so airport officials suggested he record an audio clip for the bird.

When Hugo heard the recording of her owner speaking Slovak, she became visibly excited, according to Dan Donoher from Kildare Animal Foundation.

"When the voice recording was sent to me and I played it for Hugo she reacted instantly and became animated and excited," Mr Donoher said.

"There was no doubt in my mind that Lubomir was her rightful owner."

He 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."

Mr Michna said he was "so happy" to get "his baby" back after being separated for several days.

Hugo had been spotted walking along the eastern end of the airport's main runway by airport firefighter Craig Wade last Sunday evening.

Mr Wade and a colleague were carrying out a routine safety inspection at the time.

He said: "It was immediately obvious that she was a pet.

"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."

Mr Wade said the people at Kildare Animal Foundation "couldn't have been more helpful" when they took Hugo under their wing until she was reunited with Mr Michna.

The airport also launched a social media campaign which was picked up by Lidl.

Mr Michna has owned Hugo for two years and takes her everywhere - she even perches on his shoulder when he goes shopping.

He said something had frightened Hugo last Saturday when she flew off in fear.

Mr Michna thanked Dublin Airport and the Kildare Animal Foundation for finding and looking after Hugo.