The National Zoo is involved in numerous awareness and education programmes. One of the most important and fascinating programmes for 2012 is focusing on a bird that is feared by many cultures — the owl.
The stars of the Owl Show and the "Walk and Talk" — Hoot (left) and Toot. They are Spotted Eagle Owls, a proudly South African bird.
Hoot, accompanied by Owl Curator Robynn Ingle-Moller, interacts with visitors during the "Walk and Talk".
Many unfounded superstitions have developed around the owl, which is distressing and further threatens their existence in the wild. Already owls are increasingly forced to enter urban areas in search of food. Owls play a vital role in our ecosystem and it is important to safeguard them before there is a knock-on effect that will cause further serious implications.
The NZG's Owl Show was initiated in 2011 as an education programme for visiting school groups. It has proved to be such a hit that it will be continued in 2012 with some enjoyable additions such as the "Walk and Talk" initiative. This entails that the NZG's two Spotted Eagle Owls, Hoot and Toot, are carried around the zoo to give visitors a personal opportunity to see these magnificent birds up close.
Hoot and Toot are both year-old female owls that have been hand reared and trained to interact with the public. Training has been taking place with conservators and educators to develop an exciting, interactive show for the 2012 programme, where school groups and other visitors will be able to see them feed and fly silently during the show. Be sure not to miss the Hoot and Toot Show, daily between 10am-12pm at the Farmyard Lapa.
The Owl Show and 'Walk and Talk' initiative will be an ongoing event throughout the year, so keep your eyes open for Hoot and Toot.
Claire Fordred, Intern, NZG
The National Zoological Gardens of
South Africa is a proud facility of
the National Research Foundation