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Family outraged after Sedgwick Co. Zoo euthanizes owls

Article Date: 2010-04-26   Source:   Comments: 1

By Josh Witsman

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 birds.

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.

Disclaimer: This article has been reproduced from and placed here for comment. is not responsible for the accuracy of any information in this article, and does not necessarily agree with the author's opinions.

Related Articles:
2010-05-01 - Humane Society Fields Complaints About Euthanized Owls by Denise Hnytka - Wichita, Kansas, U.S.A.

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On 2014-02-20, 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!!!"

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