Ripley the owl has been part of the Bird Show crew for just over a year now. It doesn’t seem that long ago that she was covered in white fluffy down and taken home every night to be hand-raised by one of her trainers and surrogate-mum, Erin.
As part of her training, Erin got Ripley the Barking Owl use to the sights and sounds of the Zoo which even involved her taking a ride on the zoo’s cable car! During Ripley’s initial preparation for the show, she was taught how to fly out of tricky situations as the Bird Show amphitheatre overlooks the harbour and can be a little challenging for new starters encountering the strong the sea breezes.
To prompt her for this, her Keepers trained her to fly down steep descents by starting from the Bird Show stage and flying her down a 20 metre drop to the road below. This training also came in handy for encouraging her out of tall trees and building up her confidence in flying.
Ripley is fascinating to watch as she constantly scans her environment, turning her head upside down, backwards and nearly all the way around.
After many months of training she debuted in the show earlier this year and is now a regular star at the 3pm show, swooping across the audience’s heads and making everyone duck for cover!
Unit Supervisor of the QBE Free Flight Bird Show