GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — John Ball Zoo’s newest habitat has taken flight.
Two snowy owls – a male and a female – can now be seen at their newly constructed habitat located in the Forest Realm of the zoo near the Amur Tigers, according to a news release Friday.
The male’s name is Zenon, after Zenon the Greek philosopher. He’s about 8 years old and arrived from a raptor rehabilitator in the Traverse City area.
Because of a shoulder injury, he can’t be released back into the wild because he can’t fly the long distances necessary for survival.
The female’s name is Khione, after the Greek goddess of snow.
She’s 3 years old and came from a raptor rehabilitator in the central part of Michigan.
Her wing was injured in the wild, rendering her unable to fly.
Guests can tell them apart because males are more uniformly white and smaller than females. Females have a more extensive black speckled pattern.
John Ball Zoo hopes for a mating match, as the two owls are recommended for breeding as part of the snowy owl’s Species Survival Plan.
In the wild, snowy owls live in the northern hemisphere around the world, along open fields, tundra and shorelines.
They primarily eat other birds, fish and small mammals, especially lemmings and mice.
Unlike most other owl species, snowy owls are active during the day and spend the majority of their time on the ground.
About 28,000 mature snowy owls live in the wild, making their conservation status vulnerable, according to John Ball Zoo.
Humans kill them for food, trophies and to protect game animals. Other predators include foxes, jaegers, dogs, wolves and other avian predators.