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Saudis Discover Captive Vulture is Not a Mossad Spy

The Saudi government has freed a bird it first declared was a vulture and a spy for Israel. Now it claims it's an eagle and free to go.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 1/12/2011, 4:13 PM / Last Update: 1/12/2011, 9:52 PM

The Saudi government has freed a bird it first declared was a vulture and a spy for Israel's international Mossad intelligence agency. Now it claims it's an eagle and free to go.

Prince Bandar Bin Saud Al Saud, the country's “expert” on nature, has cleared the “culprit” of all charges after a week in which Saudi Arabia provided merriment for media around the globe.

The story began when the bird was caught by a local hunter in a remote part of the Saudi desert. Because it was wearing a GPS transmitter and leg bracelet engraved with the words “Tel Aviv University” the creature immediately became a suspect in an international espionage plot.

One week later, Prince Bandar stepped in to clarify matters and accuse the Saudi media of “irresponsible reporting.”

The prince ordered the release of the bird, which he identified as a bald eagle, and explained there was no question the bird was no spy.

“These systems are fitted to birds and animals, including marine animals. Most countries use these systems, including Saudi Arabia,” Prince Bandar told Saudi media, according to Emirates 24/7. “We have taken delivery of this bird but we will set it free again after we [have] verified its systems...

“Some of the Saudi journalists rushed in, carrying the news of this bird for the sake of getting a scoop without checking the information,” he continued. “I am not defending Israel, but we need to be clear. They should have asked the competent authorities about the bird before publishing such news.”

However, it is not at all clear how the prince came to the conclusion that the  bird actually is a bald eagle. A blogger on the My Pet Jawa website commented it was odd that a bald eagle would be found in Israel.

A reader on the site also pointed out that bald eagles do not appear on a list of falcon and eagle species in Israel. “My guess is Prince Bandar is confused,” Hetz Shahor wrote.

“I kinda feel sorry for the guy considering he's an entire ocean away from his natural habitat,” wrote “Howie,” a U.S. resident blogging on the issue. “Anyway, I guess the Israelis can have one as our (sic) are going pretty well... And find him a mate, dammit.”

Tel Aviv University uses vultures in the study whose hapless participant soared adventurously over the border only to be accused of being a spy and then misnamed a bald eagle.