A 28-day-old Eurasian Eagle Owl made her public debut at the National Aviary Tuesday, joining the three already there.
“This Eurasian Eagle Owl is the first baby owl that has been born in any AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited zoo in the last five years, so she is a very special Eurasian Eagle Owl,” said aviary veterinarian Pilar Fish.
The yet-to-be-named baby owl will be part of a unique program at the aviary in which the owls have multiple roles: education, breeding and being exhibited.
“Most institutions will not put their education program animals into a breeding situation,” said Manager of Animal Training Cathy Schlott. “We’re trying to be a leader and show people that you can have education animals that can go off, breed for a little bit, then go back to doing their educational duties.”
The concern is that in going from one role to another, an education program bird could be lost to breeding or exhibits.
“You spend hours upon hours training these animals,” Schlott said, “but we’re showing you can do it just for a little while. They won’t lose their training. You might have to retrain them a little bit, but it’s totally possible.”
At this point, it’s not clear what role the new owl will play or whether she’ll be used for breeding in the future. Schlott said a plan is currently being worked out for her future.
The Eurasian Eagle Owl is one of the largest owl species in the world. Males are typically about one-third smaller than the females.
The new baby owl will be on public display daily from 11:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. starting April 10 and running through May 24. At that time, she will be full-grown.