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Screech Owl Stolen From NJ Animal Sanctuary Returned

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Simon the owl (credit: CBS 2)

Simon the owl (credit: CBS 2)

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LONG HILL, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A beloved Eastern Screech Owl stolen this week from a New Jersey avian rehab center has been returned to the facility.

Officials with The Raptor Trust in Long Hill say Simon, a tiny, partly blind and flightless owl who was a favorite of schoolchildren, was returned unharmed Friday night. That came after a good Samaritan contacted trust officials and told them the bird would be returned unharmed as long as no charges were filed.

Lauren Butcher, the trust’s education director, told The Daily Record of Parsippany that officials don’t believe that person was involved in the abduction. She said they were grateful for the person’s help in Simon’s safe return.

On Tuesday night, someone tried to break into Simon’s cage, as evidenced by the fact that the latch was mangled. The first attempt was unsuccessful.

But on Wednesday night, the thief didn’t make the same mistake.

“They broke into the cage, cut the wire and actually stole one of the birds,” said Raptor Trust founder and President Dr. Leonard Soucy. “We felt violated. We still feel that way.”

Butcher says Soucy met with the good Samaritan around 9 p.m. Friday.

Butcher said Simon was a little dehydrated and undergoing fluid therapy Saturday, but was expected to make a full recovery. But he will be shielded from the public this weekend so he can calm down.

Simon lost his night vision in an accident six years ago when he was struck by a car in Bangor, Pa. and is a permanent resident of the center.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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