Friday, February 17, 2012

Sad News - A Death in the Family

We here in the RMRP family are all mourning today, Raptors and Humans alike. The Great Horned Owl that we refer to as the Old Male passed away yesterday, leaving an Owl-shaped hole in all out hearts. For those of you who never got to meet the Old Male, let me tell you a little bit about him.

He became an Educational Ambassador way back in 1996, and was already an adult bird, which means he was at least eighteen years old when he passed away! He never would tell any of us his actual age, but we're pretty sure he was considerably older because he was always grumping about us 'young kids' making too much noise at night.

He was one of the first birds I can remember meeting when I began my training as an educational bird, and I've used him as a role model ever since. He was always well-behaved when being handled, one of the best of us, but he still hissed and clacked at every single person who came near (or even looked into his cage!) so that the Humans would always remember that he was a wild bird, no matter how good he was on the fist. And he was great: during his stay here I'm sure he went to many hundreds of programs and exhibits.

To quote a Human I overheard, the Old Male was "a fighter and a lover," which I definitely agree with. He contracted and fought West Nile Virus not just once, but twice, and kicked its butt both times. And while living out at the ELC he and his female roommate became inseperable: they were forever perched side-by-side on their A-frame, no space between them, hissing in unison at whomever dared disturb them. Sadly, she passed away many years ago.

The Humans are unsure why exactly the Old Male died. He had a medical procedure earlier this week to remove a mass that had developed in his body. He'd been recovering well and had a good attitude (hissing and clacking at everyone, like usual). His extreme age, which was only achieved because he was so well cared for in captivity, was probably a factor. The Humans are waiting for lab tests to give more info.

But whatever the reason for his passing, and no matter how sad and lonely we're all feeling without him in our lives anymore, it makes me happy to imagine him and his mate flying together through the night sky somewhere over the plains of Colorado.


  1. Yep great owl, educator and fierce feathered fellow!! Thanks for the share! It was 1996, but 2996 sends him to the future!! He was timeless!! ;..(