SIOUX FALLS, S.D (KELO) — The Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls released a Great Horned Owl back into the wild on Friday.
It is the same owl KELOLAND News reported was spotted on the mossy balcony at Avera’s Health Campus on Louise earlier this month.
The owl was first brought in to The Great Plains Zoo on February 10, 2020.
Matt Eschenbrenner is the Great Plains Zoo Director of Animal Care and Conservation. He also contributes to the zoo’s raptor rehabilitation program. He says the owl was a little malnourished and sustained minor injuries related to running into a building.
The zoo’s raptor rehabilitation program releases about five birds a year. The owl was released Friday morning around 10 a.m.
“You know, they come in from all different organizations whether it’s Animal Control; Game, Fish and Parks. We assess those animals from day one, sometimes they’re in dire states when they do arrive. If we can rehab a bird and it’s not set for wild release, or it’s not safe enough, we’ll try to keep it in the collection maybe in education or just the general zoo collection,” Eschenbrenner said.
Zoo crews limited their contact with the owl; that way it wouldn’t be acclimated to people.
“We put them in an enclosure here in a quarantined area, so only really a few people have access to these animals when they’re going through the rehab process. The vets will get hands on, we’ll have keepers take care of them, but very few people. We don’t want to get those animals used to people being around. We want to keep them as wild as we possibly can,” Eschenbrenner said.