A carved wooden eel named “Elvis”, which was stolen from a rural play trail in land-locked Shropshire, is set to be returned after being found washed up on a beach 111 miles (179km) away.
The artwork and a second, identical carving were taken from the riverside Severn Valley Country Park, near the village of Alveley, in 2020 and disappeared without trace.
Both wood installations had been part of a wider project called Unlocking The Severn, run by the Canal & River Trust, to teach park visitors and youngsters about river wildlife, and restore historic fish migration patterns.
Shropshire Council announced on Tuesday that one of the carved pieces had been found on a beach in Portishead, near Bristol, with the help of social media.
Officials are now arranging for Elvis to be transported back to the park, while the hunt for its twin carving continues.
Lezley Picton, in charge of culture and leisure at Shropshire Council, called the discovery “remarkable” and “wonderful news”.
“I think you could say we’re ‘all shook up’ by this unexpected surprise,” she added.
“Council officers are now working with the finders to have Elvis safely transported back to Severn Valley Country Park after his extraordinary migration, where children will once again be able to enjoy him.
“I’d like to thank the finders of Elvis – it is truly remarkable.
“Hopefully we can find Elvis’ sibling and reunite the pair.”
Alex Ball, Canal & River Trust senior project manager, said: “The project is about restoring the river for fish migration.
“Clearly this piece of play equipment has made an epic journey of its own.
“We are extremely grateful to everyone who has contributed to finding the wooden eel, sharing the story on social media, and bringing the information to the attention of the council.”