Owlet successfully fostered by Zoo’s 18 year old great horned owl, Einstein
July 12, 2023
Abilene, TX- Abilene Zoo’s Bird Rehabilitation Center staff is happy to share news of the successful release of a great horned owl back into the wild on July 12. The release comes after the zoo’s 18 year old great horned owl, Einstein, did an excellent job acting as surrogate mother to the chick, successfully raising it and teaching it to fly and hunt.
A Big Country resident brought the great horned owlet to the Abilene Zoo’s Bird Rehabilitation Center following the big storms that swept through Sweetwater in March 2023. The resident reported they found the hours-old owlet on the ground, far below its nest, and was unable to return it to the nest.
Fortunately for this chick, Einstein was showing signs of readiness to raise a chick. Following a veterinary exam, zoo keepers decided giving Einstein an opportunity to be a surrogate mother to the owlet provided it the best chance for rehabilitation and eventual release.
“Einstein took to the owlet immediately, her motherly instincts kicked in and she started calling to it and brooding it – cuddling it,” said Ryan King, bird rehabilitation keeper. “This is the second time Einstein has accepted a chick that came in through the Abilene Zoo Bird Rehabilitation Center. Not every bird will accept a chick that’s not its own, but Einstein continues to show her desire to be a mom. She’s been a great surrogate mother.”
Over the next three and a half months, Einstein successfully raised the owlet, feeding it and teaching it to fly and hunt. By mid-July the owlet passed all of the necessary tests and was ready to be released back into the wild. On Wednesday, July 12 the owlet was successfully released in Sweetwater, Texas.