Minnesota Zoo tells Apple Valley neighbors to be on the lookout for feathered escapee

·2 min read

People who live near the Minnesota Zoo may want to take a second look when they hear a hoot in their backyards.

Gladys, a Eurasian eagle owl, escaped during a routine exercise and training session on Oct. 1.

Officials say the large bird is likely somewhere on the zoo's 485-acre Apple Valley property, but asked neighbors to be on the lookout just in case.

Animal care specialists have seen the bird of prey in various trees around campus, but it so far has not been lured by food and enrichment objects it likes to use.

Native to areas as snowy as Siberia, Eurasian eagle owls are naturally well equipped for cold winters and feed on small rodents like mice and squirrels, said Zach Nugent, the zoo's communications specialist.

"Because she is cold-weather acclimated, we aren't concerned for her welfare when it comes to weather and environment," he said, adding the owl is not a public safety threat.

"With her species we don't have any concerns about predators either."

The Eurasian eagle owl is brown and looks similar to horned owls. Eurasian eagle owls have big orange eyes and weigh between 3½ and 9¼ pounds, with a wingspan of about 5 to 6½ feet, according to the Denver Zoo.

The great horned owl by comparison weighs 2¼-5½ pounds and has a wingspan of 3-5 feet, according to the Minnesota Zoo.

Within a few hours of posting Gladys' disappearance on social media, the zoo received tips from several eagle-eyed residents.

Anyone who spots the bird should call their local Police Department.

People who think they've spotted Gladys can send photos to the zoo's social media accounts or to info@mnzoo.org.

"We have had birds fly off before, but not for this long of a duration," Nugent said.

"With access to [the zoo's land] and the trees and her expert ability to camouflage this time of year, it's a little challenging to track her as she goes from tree to tree."

Alex Chhith • 612-673-4759

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