A bus reportedly struck the snowy owl, D.C.’s critter celeb of the moment, at 15th and I streets NW early this morning. (Metro cannot confirm if the bus was one of its own.)
Police found the owl and reported the injury to National Zoological Police before transferring the bird to the National Zoo. Upon arrival, the snowy owl showed no obvious physical injuries, according to zoo representatives, but there was evidence that the bird had sustained a head trauma. The owl was provided pain medication and fluids; staff also determined that the owl is probably female.
Zoo protocol is to release wild animals back into the wild through a state-affiliated (though in this case, city-affiliated) animal organization. City Wildlife is now in charge of the snowy owl; the organization’s biologists plan to give the owl X-rays to check for any injuries that might have been missed initially.
The snowy owl made a huge splash last week after unexpectedly showing up in town. According to Mike Parr of the American Bird Conservancy, these owls typically live in the northern polar regions and are sometimes pushed out of their habitats if competition for food gets too tight at the end of breeding season. Appearances in the U.S. are rare.
Photo via the National Zoo flickr stream