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Seneca Park Zoo welcomes 6-year-old snowy owl

Snowy owl, Tundra, is a new arrival to the Seneca Park Zoo.
Chris Conlon
Snowy owl, Tundra, is a new arrival to the Seneca Park Zoo.

Seneca Park Zoo announced the arrival of a snowy owl on Friday. The six-year-old male owl, Tundra, will join the zoo’s female owl, Winter, in a newly expanded habitat. Zoo staff are hopeful the two will be able to reproduce. 

Tundra was transported from National Aviary in Pittsburgh, PA. Tundra has the ability to fly, unlike Winter.

In 2014, the Pennsylvania Game Commission confiscated Tundra from a private home. As he was imprinted on humans, he is considered unable to be re-released.

Pamela Reed Sanchez with Seneca Park Zoo Society said that Tundra’s case exemplifies the danger of turning endangered species into household pets.

“Tundra’s story gives us a great opportunity to educate the public about the perils of having endangered animals as pets,” Sanchez said. “That said, it’s great for guests to be able to see these amazing animals so close.”

While snowy owls are protected under the U.S. Migratory Bird Act, their conservation status is ranked as “least concern,” and is not deemed endangered or threatened in the U.S. Around the globe, there are an estimated 290,000 snowy owls according to the Encyclopedia of Life.

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At the Seneca Park Zoo, the renovated snowy owl habitat is now fully enclosed to accommodate the new arrival’s ability to fly, and includes new perches and a new shelter area. It had been closed for several months while the adjustments were made.

Acting Zoo Director David Hamilton said that the new netted enclosure allows the zoo to house flighted birds while keeping them protected from predators.

“This new habitat will hopefully allow us to breed the snowy owls as well. Tundra and Winter have already gone through an introduction period and seem to be very compatible,” Hamilton said.

This week, County Executive Adam Bello announced that starting Saturday the Zoo will host “Free Youth February.” For every adult who purchases an admissions ticket up to five youth guests between the ages of 3 and eleven can enter the zoo with that adult for free. Children under 3 are able to enter the zoo for free as usual.

The Zoo is open Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with last entry at 3:00 pm through March 31.