Little-known fact: The folks at Wimbledon utilize a falconer to keep local pigeons away from the famous tennis court during matches, because no one wants to see the world’s top tennis players and/or celebrity fans get bombed. It seems that the Wimbledon pigeon-scaring hawk was recently stolen by an animal-rights and/or pigeon lover who didn’t want to see the pigeons stressed out.

From this story in the London Evening Standard:
Wimbledon’s official “bird scarer” who makes his presence felt around the most famous tennis court in the world, was returned to its owners last night after being missing for three days.

The investigation was looking into whether the four-year-old hawk was taken by a member of the public anxious about the welfare of his pigeon prey. Falconer Wayne Davies said: “It would be a bizarre reason to have taken Rufus, but that is what the police have told me. I’m just glad he is back and is shipshape. He is ready to go back to work. We have missed him.”_

According to the story, Rufus’ travel box was taken from a car near Wimbledon, but then dumped in a public common three days later. Authorities speculate the publicity of the case made the hawknappers nervous. Rufus is now back on duty. It brings up an interesting point: The quandary faced by Rufus’ captors. What would an animal-rights activist do with a hawk? Let it go so it could kill again? Keep it and try to train it to eat vegetables? Or take it for a one-way ride, which would ostensibly violate their credo?