Rare owl escapes zoo following exhibit damage

Keepers at the Salisbury Zoo are working to lure a spectacled owl back to the zoo, like this one, after it escaped when a large tree fell on its exhibit, heavily damaging the structure.

Keepers at the Salisbury Zoo are working to lure a spectacled owl back to the zoo, after it escaped when a large tree fell on its exhibit, heavily damaging it.

“We were fortunate there were keepers close by so they were able to get in there and quickly catch two of the three owls. One made its way out through one of the openings that was caused when the tree came down,” Zoo Director Ralph Piland explained.

To lure the owl – who doesn’t have an official name – recordings of spectacled owl calls are being played and its two cage mates are outdoors near the animal hospital, Piland said.

Food is out for the bird, who Piland said is relatively young and in good health.

The owl on the loose doesn’t pose any danger to the public. Piland said it’s smaller than a great horned owl.

“A large maple tree just unexpectedly fell over. It’s was a living tree. It didn’t show any external sign of disease or damage. It just toppled over on the exhibit, without warning,” Piland said.

It fell the morning of Friday, July 28, before heavy rains began last weekend. No visitors to the zoo or animals were hurt

“It wouldn’t have been a direct result of the storm. The winds were calm. It’s a large, mature maple tree. It really demolished the exhibit. We will have to work with the City to get the tree removed,” Piland said, adding it wasn’t quickly hauled away because the commotion could have prevented the owl from returning.

Mary Seemann, who handles marketing and development at the zoo, said rains last weekend “cut short the Zoo’s Fourth Friday hours” but normal operating hours were maintained all weekend.

“High water levels for the Wicomico River did impact some areas like the alpaca exhibit but did not require any exhibit closures,” Seemann said.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

As your community newspaper, we are committed to making Salisbury a better place. You can help support our mission by making a voluntary contribution to the newspaper.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment