Our Bird Show team is full of stars, but sadly today it is a little less bright as we say farewell to Howard the Barn Owl. Howard was one of two Barn Owls housed at Bird Show, the other being Marion. Both birds were hand-raised together, getting their names from the parents of Richie and Joanie from ‘Happy Days’.
Taronga’s Bird Show opened in September of 1997. Although not one of the original routines in the show, Howard and Marion debuted shortly after, making the Barn Owls two of the longest-running stars in our show. The lunchtime spot was filled by Howard. Being a Barn Owl, Howard is iconic in himself, quite regularly referred to as a “Harry Potter owl”. This helped to foster the connection people had with him when watching his special skill-set in action, notably his almost silent flight, and ‘super hearing’. These birds are able to locate their prey just using their ears, which is incredibly awesome! They’re even able to hear mice running underneath thick layers of snow, punch though, and grab themselves a square-meal. Terminator, eat your heart out.
We spend a great of time training and working with our birds, and therefore develop a very close relationship with them, a relationship built on mutual trust. Although I wasn’t part of the team when Howard was a chick, working with him never failed to bring a smile to my face. Howard will be missed.
Continuing his legacy, Marion will continue to fly in shows.
- By Brendan Host.