Officials say missing Ochsner Park Zoo owl likely nearby the facility | Baraboo News Republic


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Two great horned owls, one shown here, escaped the Ochsner Park Zoo after a group or individual broke into the facility by cutting gate locks and opening enclosures in what looks to be encouraging animals to leave the zoo. Linda, the remaining missing owl, is likely nearby the facility and could be found on the ground in the neighborhood as she grows weaker.

Officials are advising anyone who lives near the Ochsner Park Zoo to call the Baraboo Police Department’s non-emergency number if they find a great horned owl on the ground.

Linda, the last remaining missing animal from the zoo after locks on enclosures were broken and left open, has been seen in the neighborhood multiple times in recent days, according to information released by the Baraboo Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department. Linda was last seen Monday roosting above the llama barn.

“While she is getting weaker, she is still able to fully fly and so we have not been able to recapture her,” according to the statement. “However, we are happy to be able to observe her so we know she is still alive and uninjured. It’s highly unlikely that she will travel outside of the park and surrounding neighborhood, so if you see an owl elsewhere, it’s probably not Linda.”

Zoo staff will likely only be able to recover Linda once she is too weak to fly and will be on the ground. Because the owl was raised around humans, as most of the animals kept at the zoo were, Linda is less capable of feeding herself in the wild.

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Jerry, the other owl that escaped in early June after the enclosure was left open, was recovered June 9 and brought back to the zoo for isolation the next day. He was found in a field near County Highway A roughly 4 miles from the city.

Both Linda and Jerry were brought to the zoo by a local wildlife rehabilitation facility. They were imprinted on humans and unable to hunt for themselves in the wild, though both birds can fly and have good eyesight.

Jerry was found with wing fractures and a minor eye injury. He was treated by a UW veterinarian.

Anyone reporting a sighting of the great horned owl in the neighborhood surrounding the zoo can call the Baraboo Police Department at 608-355-2720.

Ochsner Park Zoo closed after vandals attempt to release animals; otters recovered, owls still missing

Interim Baraboo Police Chief Rob Sinden said Thursday that investigators have made “significant progress” in identifying the cause of the escapes. While they initially assumed the break-in was perpetuated by a group of vandals, Sinden said they plan to announce charges against one person “soon.”

Overall, 15 locks were broken at the zoo, Sinden said. The two river otters also ran away from the facility but were spotted hours later by local kayakers playing the Baraboo River. They were brought back to the zoo by staff members.

Detectives are working with the Sauk County District Attorney’s Office to focus on a specific individual. There is “no evidence of any affiliation of this suspect to any animal rights group,” Sinden said.

Follow Bridget on Twitter @cookebridget or contact her at 608-745-3513.

By Harriet