The group of owlets is the first hatching of snowy owls at the Seattle zoo in nine years

By Ally Mauch
August 06, 2020 01:49 PM
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Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Woodland Park Zoo

The Woodland Park Zoo has welcomed two new additions to their snowy owl family.

A pair of chicks recently hatched at the Seattle zoo, marking the first hatching of snowy owls at the Woodland Park Zoo in nine years, according to a release.

The chicks were born to first-time parents, mom June and dad Dusty. The new family of four resides in the zoo’s Northern Trail habitat.

"Mom sits on the nest most of the time, a sign of good maternal care," Kevin Murphy, an animal curator at Woodland Park Zoo, said in the release. "The owlets are beginning to venture outside the nest, so visitors may have the chance to see them on the ground."

Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Woodland Park Zoo

Parents June and Dusty were paired as part of the Snowy Owl Species Survival Plan, a breeding program used in accredited zoos across the country "to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population" of snowy owls.

The fluffy white snowy owls — the heaviest owl species in North America — prefer arctic climates, but will fly to southern Canada and the northern U.S., including Washington, in search of food. The Woodland Park Zoo's new owlets are not fully-fledged, so they are currently sporting a grey coat of feathers for now.

The population of this vulnerable species is currently decreasing due to their contact with human civilization as they travel south.

Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Woodland Park Zoo

"Snowy owls die from flying into utility lines, wire fences, cars, airplanes (at airports) and other human structures. Some owls are even killed by hunters; changes in the arctic climate also may be a looming threat for this species," the release said, adding that owls, in general, are also in decline due to habitat loss, disease, and poisoning from toxic rodent bait.

The owlets hatched at the Woodland Park Zoo are just two of the many animals the zoo has welcomed since the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including a tawny frogmouth chick, a tapir calf, a gorilla baby, agouti pups, penguin chicks, scaly-sided merganser ducklings, a pudu fawn and a mountain goat kid.