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Rufus the stolen Wimbledon hawk returned, back scaring pigeons


Rufus, Wimbledon's resident Harris Hawk keeps the courts pigeon free on Day Seven of the championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 29, 2009 in London, England.


Ian Walton

LONDON, United Kingdom — Rufus the hawk, Wimbledon's own anti-pigeon device, has been returned.

Thieves stole the American harris hawk late on Thursday from a parked car where he had been left overnight in his traveling box. 

More from GlobalPost: Rufus the Wimbledon hawk stolen

After unconfirmed sightings and a Twitter appeal for his return, Rufus was handed in to an animal shelter in south-west London, the UK Press Association reported, a few miles from where he disappeared.

He was reunited with his handlers last night, who announced the news via Rufus' official Twitter account:

The details of Rufus' adventure still aren't clear, his handler, Imogen Davis, told the BBC. A member of the public apparently found him still in his carry case, abandoned on Wimbledon Common.

Rufus was back at work on Monday morning, greeting human visitors and seeing off winged ones. 

Hawks have been a fixture at the tennis tournament for the past 12 years as an environmentally-friendly method of pest control. Rufus, 4, flies above the courts every morning and evening while the tournament is on, though not during matches to avoid distracting players.

"Center court is like his playground," Davis says in The Telegraph's video of Rufus' first day back.