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Happy the Owl meets Miss Belize!

altOur Ambassador barn owl, “Happy” is preparing for a major education role at The Belize Zoo.  Over the months, he has been meeting and greeting many people, including Miss Belize, Destinee Dominique Arnold.   And we thank Romantic  Travel Belize for asking the zoo to participate in an exciting photo session, blending together pretty women and pretty animals.

“Happy” has made a few television appearances, participated in summer camp activities, and has been on stage at the Bliss Theatre, too.  Now, his role as an Ambassador will steadily grow, as our education department begins to put the final touches to the new education classroom in the Gerald Durrell Visitor’s Centre.

There will be a perch in the classroom, just for “Happy”, and as he sits and studies his student guests, much will be shared about the truly beautiful and  important  barn owl.   A recent survey about owls was circulated to various parts of Belize.  Many of the comments received showed a traditional fear of owls, but in particular, the barn owl.  “Happy” intends to change these perceptions.   While it is true, the sounds made by barn owls can be startling, these calls are just how they happen to “owl speak”.
Barn owls eat more mice and rats than any other animal on the planet.  Imagine!  A true foe of “Charlie Price” is part of our Belizean natural heritage.  Barn owls are hero birds, not “the bird of misery and evil”, which has been the reputation long attached to these beautiful birds of prey.

As an owl Ambassador, “Happy” will literally share his feathers with his guests, too.  Flight feathers he has molted, we have saved.  Passing one of these feathers past an ear results in silence.  Passing a feather from another bird species, such as an eagle or parrot, results in a very evident “Woooosh”.
This is because the finely bristled feather edge allows for silent flight.  And this makes the barn owl a top notch predator.   Barn owls living in northern regions can hear the heartbeat of a mouse when the little rodent is three feet under the snow.  No hearing aids ever needed for this species of owl, that’s for sure!

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