Angus the Rufous Owl...actually, make that Agnes

Angus the Rufous Owl...actually, make that Agnes

#Taronga Zoo Sydney

Posted on 26th July 2011 by Media Relations


I took a look at something quite unexpected, ‘Angus’ the Rufous Owl had laid an

egg. No, he hadn’t defied the odds and become the first male to take on the hatching

role. He, we discovered, is actually a she, and has now been renamed ‘Agnes’.


is a very much loved member of the Taronga family and has delighted visitors at

the Taronga QBE Free Flight Bird Show for many years. This stunning bird with soft blue

feathers around its eyes came to the Zoo as a chick in 2003 but it’s really

hard to tell the boys from the girls. Sometimes you have to do a surgical

procedure to tell them apart. There wasn’t ever a reason for us to know if the

Rufous Owl was male or female, so rather than doing an unnecessary procedure we

dubbed it ‘Angus’ and as is human nature, it was referred to as a male for the

last eight years.


Angus started to get picked on by the local magpies and crows whilst he was

trying to show off his skills in the Bird Show, so he made the move into our

Nocturnal House for a quieter life as he entered middle age. 


our Nocturnal House keeper wanted to make Angus feel as comfortable as possible

and built a tropical home for him and spent lots of time talking and chatting

to the Rufous Owl. Angus immediately struck up a rapport with Paul and would

chatter back, watch him as he went about his work, allowed Paul to stroke the

feathers on his head (something he would never have tolerated previously) and

seemed to be quite enamoured with his new keeper.


out Angus decided that for all intents and purposes Paul was his ‘mate’, his

replacement bird partner and laid an egg. 

Paul tells the remarkable story of how Angus was sitting in the exhibit,

proud as punch trying to direct Paul to the corner where the egg was sitting.

Paul initially thought one of the other keepers was playing a joke on him, so

didn’t get too excited until it was confirmed to be the real deal.


Agnes, apologies you have had a boy’s moniker for the last few years, but just

goes to show our animals delight and continue to amaze and teach us things on a

daily basis!

- Danielle,

Zoo Communications