Guests to CROW’s Visitor Education Center will soon be able to meet their newest animal ambassador, an injured burrowing owl that has been deemed unreleasable to the wild.
CROW Education Coordinator Rachel Rainbolt said the burrowing owl, from Cape Coral, was admitted to CROW’s hospital on June 19 with a broken wing.
“Based upon the injuries present, the proposed diagnosis was that the burrowing owl was struck by a vehicle. CROW’s medical staff performed surgery to repair the damage, but the wing did not heal properly,” she said. “Without full flight capabilities the burrowing owl would not be able to hunt for itself in the wild, thus making it non-releasable.”
After it was determined the burrowing owl could not be released, CROW’s staff began training the bird, so it could be utilized in education programs as an animal ambassador. Animal ambassadors help educate audience members about the importance of co-habitating with wildlife neighbors.
Rainbolt said Facebook viewers and CROW’s Visitor Education Center guests will have the opportunity to vote on five different names for the burrowing owl.
CROW began including live exhibits of animals in their Visitor and Education Center in February and have been acquiring animals little, by little. The center includes Sweetie, the invasive cane toad; Lucky and Charm the invasive tokay geckos; Arturo the invasive knight anole and Violet, the eastern indigo snake.
“Even though animal ambassadors have been conditioned to be more tolerant of human contact, it’s crucial that audiences are aware that these animals are not pets,” Rainbolt said. “They are wildlife and still maintain all of the same fears and anxieties as if they were in their natural surroundings. Proper safety must be exercised at all times, so ambassadors are under close supervision of CROW’s staff, students and volunteers during programs.”