Wichita, Kansas, U.S.A. - David Oster and his father were cutting down a tree in their west Wichita back yard when they got a surprise.
"At the point that the tree hit the ground, we saw four little baby birds pop
out of the bottom," David Oster said.
The birds were believed to be four baby screech owls.
Oster put the owls in a box and took them to the Sedgwick County Zoo. Oster says
a zoo official gave him two phone numbers to wildlife rehabilitators. When no
one answered, the zoo offered to take the owls.
"She gave me this little piece of paper that said I agree to give these birds to
them as a donation," Oster said.
That form, according to Sedgwick County Zoo officials, also gave the zoo the
right to euthanize the birds. However, Oster says he was told that would only
happen if the birds were unhealthy.
"I was assuming that these birds were going to live, because all four of these
birds were really healthy," Oster said. "They were just little babies."
After dropping off the owls, Oster's mother got in touch with Ken Lockwood of
the Eagle Valley Raptor Center. Lockwood is a licensed rehabilitator.
Lockwood says he immediately called the zoo, and said he was on his way to pick
up the owls.
"I arrived at the zoo 25 minutes later," Lockwood said. "It was then that I was
informed that in the 25 minutes they had already gone ahead and euthanized those
A Sedgwick County Zoo spokeswoman tells KSN they zoo followed all of its
procedures when it euthanized the four owls. Ken Lockwood says while that may be
true, the zoo violated federal protocol when dealing with protected animals.
Lockwood says the owls are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which
makes it illegal to kill the birds.
"According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife, if you are a vet, a zoo, or a nature
center and not a rehabber or have a rehab license, then you have 48 hours to
turn the birds over to a licensed rehabber," Lockwood said.
Lockwood says the Sedgwick County Zoo did not do that.
"I understand that these aren't tigers, lions, leopards, and giraffes," Lockwood
said. "I understand that. However, they are still wildlife, and they still
should be given the same opportunity to live just like those other animals do."
Again, a Sedgwick County Zoo spokeswoman says the zoo followed all procedures
and protocol when euthanizing the owls. The spokeswoman also says the Sedgwick
County Zoo has a permit that allows the zoo to euthanize any animal in its care.
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from Wichita wrote: "I came across this article while looking for owl pictures to use as a screen saver and sincerely wish I had never seen it. I am very disappointed that personnel from our zoo could not have found a better solution for unwanted birds, especially protected ones. They probably became snake food - horrible end to beautiful birds such as the owl . Shame!!!"