Pair of snowy owls arrive at John Ball Zoo

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The male owl, Zenon, is uniformly white, and the female owl, Khione, has an extensive black-speckled pattern. Courtesy John Ball Zoo

Two snowy owls have a new home in the Forest Realm at John Ball Zoo.

The male owl, Zenon, is uniformly white, and the female owl, Khione, has an extensive black-speckled pattern.

Zenon, 8 years old, came from a raptor rehabilitator in the Traverse City area. He has a shoulder injury and cannot be released into the wild because he is unable to fly long distances, which is necessary for survival.

Three-year-old Khione also came from a raptor rehabilitator that is located in central Michigan. Her wing was injured, rendering her unable to fly.

Despite their injuries, the zoo hopes for a mating match for Zenon and Khione, which are recommended for breeding as part of the snowy owl’s species survival plan. Their conservation status is “vulnerable” with approximately 28,000 mature snowy owls in the wild.

Snowy owls live in the northern hemisphere along open fields, tundra and shorelines. They primarily eat other birds, fish and small mammals. They also are active during the day and spend the majority of their time on the ground.

To communicate, the males “hoot” more frequently than females, but they both also have a variety of calls.

Humans are considered the most prevalent predator of snowy owls. They are killed by humans for food, trophies and to protect game animals. Other predators include foxes, jaegers, dogs, wolves and other avian predators.

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