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In early April, the Abilene Zoo's Conservation, Public Relations, Marketing, and Animal Ambassador and all-around great guy, Clayton Carabajal received a newly hatched Great Horned Owl chick from a West Texas resident. Clayton said he was told that the mother owl had been killed by a neighborhood house cat.

The Abilene Zoo does it again, by coming to the rescue of this newly hatched baby owl. Carabajal said "IF, we are able to help raise this baby chick (that had yet to open his eyes as you'll see in the video below). We will give it a chance to live in the wild again one day."

By the way, Clayton is a personal friend of mine and I will reveal this about him. Clayton is a HUGE animal lover, but I think his favorites are birds, especially owls. Secondly, owls are a protected species and Carabajal wants to give this baby a real chance at life.

Clayton says "the Abilene Zoo's bird rehabilitation team began caring for this very vulnerable baby chick. But then an idea sparked. A member of the Abilene Zoo animal collection named "Einstein" had recently laid eggs, but since she had no mate, the eggs were infertile. All birds will develop eggs regardless of whether they are fertilized because the entire egg, without the shell, is made before fertilization occurs.


The mother bird still needs to deposit that egg. So the Zoo's Animal Care and Rehabilitation team had thought. If the goal is to release this owl chick, what if Einstein is the one to raise it? So they carefully replaced the infertile eggs with the tiny chick. Immediately Einstein took on the chick as her own."  Source: Clayton Carabajal Abilene Zoo

Update: Becoming more and more protective. Feeding the chick and refusing food herself. Pouring all of her resources into the chick. Just like it was her own. The chick continues to grow and now the difference in size is easy to see. From this point on the chick will flege, losing all those fluffy chick feathers and growing the adult feathers.

When an owl chick fleges and learns to hunt on its own, it then leaves mom to begin life on its own. The Zoo's plan is to move the owlet to a new area once it is ready and begin to help it learn to hunt, all while keeping human interaction at a minimum. Then hopefully it will meet all the criteria and be released.

"We celebrate the work of our Bird Rehabilitation team," said Clay Carabajal, Abilene Zoo Supervisor of Conservation. "This time of year can be challenging, with many baby birds and adults needing help. Community members can access information on about what they can do to help wild birds in need."

LOOK: It's The Abilene Zoo From A to Z

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