LUNA: great horned owl
Luna was found as a chick in Stockton, California, and was raised by a person who did not know what to feed a growing raptor. Deprived of the proper amounts of calcium and other minerals in her diet, she developed metabolic bone disease, which prevents the bones from attaining good strength and flexibility. Once weakened severely, the bones become deformed and the condition is irreversible.
In the wild, great-horned owls are silent and powerful hunters; they also need to defend their territory and to escape from the attacks of mobbing birds, such as crows. For these activities, they need strong flight and full wing extension. So, with weakened wings and legs, Luna can never be released.
Luna joined the permanent collection at the Center on January 24, 2014. She seemed quite calm with people, so once she was stabilized and healthy, we started the taming process,* in hopes that she could become one of our Education Birds. She progressed rapidly, and had her first introduction to a crowd in May 2014. In August, she traveled off-site for the first time, for a presentation to the public. She always behaves well in front of audiences, and has quickly become one of our most popular “ambassadors.”
* Taming is the process of teaching a bird to stay perched on your gloved fist. The bird is fitted with special leather bracelets around the ankles, to which jesses, a swivel, and a leash are attached. This equipment keeps the bird from flying away or from injury if it should become agitated.