Taronga Zoo’s Bird Show has welcomed a Lesser Sooty Owl chick to their team. Currently he looks much more like a fluff ball than the impressive bird he will one day become. The chick moved to Taronga Zoo from Featherdale Wildlife Park.
Taronga Zoo keeper, Matt Kettle is hand rearing the chick which has been named ‘Griffin.’
Kettle said that his family were very excited to welcome this new member, “As soon as I walked in the door with him and set him down in his box, my four year old daughter came up and started telling him a story.”
“At home he stretches out in my lap while I watch TV and I give him a bit of a scratch. While nice for us, this is actually part of his training. This human interaction is important as he’ll be doing encounters and flying in the show one day so it’s essential that he’s prepared for anything,” he added.
AS Griffin grows his fluffy down feathers are fast disappearing. “Like most babies he spends most of his time sleeping, but he’s starting to explore his surroundings more and he’s jumping off things getting ready to fly.”
In the coming weeks Griddin will start to try flying around the Bid Show amphitheatre along with taking Griffin around the zoo on walks.
It will be a good chance for visitors to meet this rarely encountered owl as Kettle explained, “They are very, very secretive birds. They aren’t very common to see. Even people who go out searching for Sooty Owls in Sydney find them very hard to find.” They are only found in Northern Queensland.
Lesser Sooty owls are only found in Northern Queensland. Their cousin the Sooty Owl can be found in Sydney, Victoria and Papua New Guinea. They blend well into their dark and dense rainforest habitat along with being the most nocturnal species of owl.
These birds “hunt rats and mice,” explained Kettle meaning they are good to have around.
Taronga Zoo helps wild birds such as vultures and little penguins using the money raised through encounters at the Bird Show. Through these they have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo/ Madeleine Smitham