Tragedy Strikes Minnesota Zoo as Massive Owl ‘Gladys’ Dies after Escaping

by Jon D. B.

Minnesota Zoo’s beloved Gladys the Eurasian eagle owl was hand-reared from an egg, and her loss is a horrible blow to the zoo’s education program.

Minnesotans were hoping for a safe return for their beloved education outreach owl, Gladys. The enormous, beautiful Eurasian eagle owl would escape in early October during a routine training session. Within, her falconry training allowed Gladys to fly and stretch her wings. For her last session, however, she would not return.

Instead, Gladys chose to roost in trees and began to hunt on her own – reverting to her wild instincts. Yet as a hand-reared bird raised by zoo staff since her birth, surviving in the wild wouldn’t be advisable for Gladys. And in the end, her inexperience with the world at large would unfortunately claim her life.

Minnesota Zoo broke the news to the public on Twitter on October 14.

“The Minnesota Zoo is sad to announce this morning that Gladys, our Eurasian eagle owl, was found injured on the side of the road by a concerned neighbor who then transported her to the Zoo,” staff begins of the tragedy. ” Our veterinary team responded immediately but, sadly, Gladys had already died.”

“We’d like to thank the community for the tremendous outpouring of support and information they provided to aide in the search for Gladys,” their statement continues.

“For the last five years, Gladys has been a beloved ambassador of her species in the bird show. The Animal Care team hand-raised her from a chick, and worked with her daily. This is a difficult day for our team,” Minnesota Zoo cites.

Minnesota Zoo’s Eurasian Eagle Owl, Gladys, Was a Sight to Behold

Eurasian eagle owl (Bubo bubo) sitting on rock ledge in cliff face in autumn forest. (Photo by: Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

“Whenever an animal dies, we feel the impact of that loss as a Zoo community. We’d like to thank our Animal Care and Animal Heath teams for their dedicated efforts in caring for an searching for Gladys,” staff concludes.

This Outsider and former zookeeper’s heart breaks for the Minnesota Zoo team. At the Nashville Zoo, our fellow Eurasian eagle owl, Archimedes, is an animal ambassador as well and another absolute crowd favorite. These large, brilliant birds of prey are one of the most beautiful creatures on the planet and work wonders for educating the public on the many threatened owl species on Earth.

Eurasian eagle owls are the Eurasian continents’ larger counterpart to our North American great horned owls. Unlike the trademark bright yellow eyes of our great horneds, however, Eurasian eagle owls have striking, amber-like orange eyes. They’re a far larger species, too, with a wingspan well over 6-feet-wide.

When the search was active for Gladys, Minnesota Director of Animal Collections, Tony Fisher, told local KARE 11 News that, “She would stand out. If you see her, she’s going to be the largest owl you’ve ever seen.”

Rest in Peace, Gladys.