1. ITV Report

Wimbledon hawk Rufus found safe and well

Rufus reunited with owner Imogen Davis Photo: ITV London

The bird of prey that patrols the skies of Wimbledon was found today after an exclusive appeal on ITV's London Tonight programme. The hawk was snatched by thieves during the first week of the tennis tournament.

Harris Hawk Rufus, who deters pigeons from the All England Club, was stolen along with his cage overnight between Thursday and Friday.

But he has been handed in to the RSPCA in Putney, south west London, and is safely back in his owners' hands, police confirmed tonight.

ITV News reporter Duncan Golestani reports:

Rufus was taken from a car parked on a private drive in Dunstall Road, Wimbledon, with the rear window open for ventilation.

Owner Imogen Davis said that she "could not believe" that the Hawk had been found and thanked everyone for returning him safely.

Rufus the Hawk has his own security pass on Centre Court. Credit: Stephen Pond/PA Wire

Rufus, an American Harris Hawk, has become a well-known fixture at the south-west London club, with visitors often stopping to ask for photos with the hawk.

Hawking was first introduced to the All England Club in 1999 as an environmentally-friendly method of pest control.

Pigeons are not the Harris Hawk's natural prey, and they are trained not to attack but to circle and fly around the courts to scare the birds.

Rufus is flown each morning and evening of the championships before and after play, but not during, to avoid any distraction.

Daybreak's Nick Dixon met up with Rufus this morning.

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