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Whooooo's New at the ABQ BioPark Zoo?

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Great horned owl exhibit opens just in time for Zoo Boo.

Whooooo's New at the ABQ BioPark Zoo?

Great horned owls glide into Zoo. Photo courtesy of ABQ BioPark.

October 26, 2012

The ABQ BioPark welcomes two great horned owls (Bubo virginianus) to the Zoo. Starting on Oct. 27, guests can view the male and female in an exhibit on the Catwalk between the tigers and mountain lions. During Zoo Boo on Saturday, the exhibit's alcove will be transformed into a Haunted Habitat by zookeepers from the Bird Department.

Both birds came from a local rehabilitator who helped nurse the birds back to health after they suffered disabling injuries. The unreleaseable owls needed a permanent home, and with help from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the NM Department of Game and Fish, the owls were transferred to the BioPark. The owls have quickly settled into their enclosure with dark areas to rest in, sunny spots to perch and plenty of room to move.

"We have a tradition of presenting large owls in the Animal Encounters program, but it has been years since great horned owls have been on exhibit," said Peter Shannon, Curator of Birds. "Although this species is quite common in this area, they are nocturnal hunters and are rarely seen."

Great horned owls are the most widely distributed owl in the Americas, ranging from Alaska all the way to southern Argentina and Chile. They live in varied climates including arctic forests, deserts and rainforests. BioPark employees and volunteers have seen great horned owls and their nests during hikes in the bosque adjacent to Tingley Beach.

Although primarily nocturnal, these owls can hunt during both day and night from perches or while gliding slowly in the air. They may even walk along the ground or wade into water to capture small rodents, insects or frogs. The typical "hoo-h'HOO--hoo-hoo" call of great horned owls can be heard for several miles. (Listen to owl calls here.)

For more information, email [email protected] or dial 311 locally (505-768-2000).

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