An injured hawk that got into a Houston man's taxicab before Hurricane Harvey made landfall was released back into the wild Wednesday in North Texas.
The female Cooper's hawk was released in a Plano park after spending the last two weeks in rehabilitation for a head injury.
Cab driver William Bruso, who dubbed her "Harvey the Hurricane Hawk" in online videos that went viral, took her home after she got into his taxicab Aug. 25. Liz Compton of the TWRC Wildlife Center picked up the animal the next day as Harvey's rains fell.
Compton said the hawk couldn't fly because of head trauma, probably from flying into something. After a week-and-a-half of treatment, Compton took the hawk to a Dallas-area center for exercise before releasing her back to the wild.
On Wednesday, Bruso made a four-and-a-half hour drive from Katy, Texas, to Plano for a much-anticipated reunion with his former passenger.
"Today is a special day," the Houston-based cab driver said. "Harvey the hawk that made its way in my taxi to seek refuge from the hurricane, she's being released in the wild today."
Bruso and crowds of families from all over North Texas gathered at Oak Point Park in Plano not only to see Harvey's release but to embrace the hawk as a symbol of hope, survival and triumph amid devastation from Harvey the hurricane.
Richard Fry brought his daughters to get a glimpse of the bird after seeing the viral video online.
"This story touched my heart," Fry said. "Harvey the hawk did give me hope. I see the kindness in people."
"And the miraculousness at a second chance of being released into nature when he might not have made it," added Fry's daughter, Amanda Fry.
For Bruso, sharing this message was a magical experience.
"It's full circle. Full, amazing circle," Bruso said. "What happened today is what is supposed to happen. Harvey was set free, and I hope she does not look back."