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For people who have met Louis at VINS, he surely left a lasting impression. He had his right eye surgically removed at the Raptor Center in Minnesota in 1992, due to permanent damage from an unknown trauma when he was a wild bird. This gave him a permanent wink, the left eye large, round, and bright yellow, staring intensely at you. Due to his impaired vision and some lasting neurological damage, Louis was considered non-releasable, but otherwise healthy enough to make the shift to living permanently in captivity. His wings were uninjured, and therefore he was fully flighted. VINS guests and volunteers lucky enough to have seen him fly around his exhibit enclosure were awed and delighted by his massive wingspan and intricate feathers. Mostly, though, we would see him perched in his favorite spot, the top branch of his tree, almost motionless, his calm and stoic attitude only adding to his impressive stature.
Owls are always popular with VINS visitors, partially because of the mystery that surrounds them. Being nocturnal birds of prey, people come across owls in the wild much less frequently than other types of birds. They have amazing adaptations that allow them to hunt in complete darkness and to thrive in the harshest of conditions. The stunning combination of power, grace, and secrecy all contribute to the intrigue of owls. A close encounter with an owl is an extraordinary, memorable, and even haunting experience. The elusive and majestic great grey owl is possibly the greatest example of these qualities.
Losing one of our permanent residents at VINS is always hard for the staff and volunteers, especially when they have been with VINS longer than most of us have. But, it also reminds us how fortunate we were to have known this creature as intimately as we did. Louis’s legacy is immeasurable, and the wonder he inspired in children and adults alike will live on long after him. We are deeply grateful for Louis’s contribution to our mission and our community. He will be missed, but never forgotten.
I love you Louis, and I will miss you!
I'm so sorry to hear about his passing and that of Kentucky. I know Louis was affected by the passing of Minnesota, too. Hugs to all. I really adored those two Great Grey Owls so much.
Thank you for taking good care of a magnificent creature all those years. The Eggletons
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