A small burrowing owl accidentally boarded one of the world’s biggest cruise ships for a two week holiday.
The nine-inch tall bird stowed away on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas voyage to Mexico.
Passengers were bemused to see the feathered guest perched around the liner, resting on railings and peeking through plants.
Capturing the creature proved to be a time-sensitive challenge for staff at Florida Fish and Wildlife, who were alerted to the situation by the ship’s environmental officer.
In a Facebook post outlining the recovery effort, biologist Ricardo Zambrano revealed he only had a one-hour window in which to secure the bird between passengers disembarking and new passengers boarding for their week-long trip to Mexico.
“With some of the crew’s help, Ricardo placed mist nets around the owl’s perch of choice, the exit signs by the door. Two unsuccessful attempts later, the owl was now sitting on the balcony of a 10th storey cabin.
“The crew stood below making noise to distract the owl as Ricardo snuck up and safely netted the owl from the railing! After the amazing rescue, the cute little stowaway was safely assisted with the disembarkation process.
“He had nothing to claim in customs,” they quipped.
Despite spending two weeks at sea, the owl was deemed to be in good health, but was transported to South Florida Wildlife Centre as a precautionary measure.
“With a diet consisting of mostly insects and sometimes small reptiles, birds, frogs, and rodents, the cruise ship was not an ideal or safe long-term habitat,” Florida Fish and Wildlife concluded.
It’s not the first time holidaymakers have unknowingly travelled with a wild animal.
In 2019, a mynah bird was discovered onboard a flight from Singapore to the UK.
The bird, native to southern Asia, was found around 12 hours into the Singapore Airlines flight to London, which usually takes 14 hours.
The bird was caught by cabin crew with the assistance of some passengers.
Upon landing at Heathrow, the bird was then handed over to animal quarantine authorities.
The Independent has contacted Royal Caribbean for comment.
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