Snowy owl struck by bus in DC - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Snowy owl struck by bus in DC

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Smithsonian's National Zoo / Jen Zoon Smithsonian's National Zoo / Jen Zoon

A snowy owl that has captured the fancy of hundreds of startled onlookers in downtown Washington this week almost lost its life early Thursday when it was apparently struck by a bus two blocks from the White House.

"Right now, the owl is stable," says Anne Lewis, president of City Wildlife.

The organization runs a rehabilitation center in Northeast D.C.

"We've given it fluids and we've given it pain medication and antibiotics,” Lewis says.

Officials say a D.C. police officer first brought the injured owl to the National Zoo after it was apparently hit by a bus at 15th and I Streets, NW.

The owl, normally found in the arctic and Canada, was suffering from a bloody beak and a broken toe. But otherwise seems alright.

"There was blood coming out of its beak, which is bad," Lewis says. "But we don't see signs of head trauma, which is good."

On Thursday night, the snowy owl was resting comfortably inside a sheet-covered cage in the nursery at City Wildlife.

Why is the raptor here?

"They're migrating through," says City Wildlife's clinic director Alicia DeMay. "And also there's plenty of food here."

She says finding snowy owls in this part of the hemisphere is rare indeed.

"We probably won't see them again for another 30 years,” she says.

There is a name for what brought the owls here: it's called an irruption.

"Irruption is when an animal turns up in an unexpected place," says Lewis.

City Wildlife's rehab center opened in July and is now caring for possums, pigeons and box turtles, too.

"A lot of our animals come in as babies," says the center's wildlife biologist Abby Hehmeyer. "And our job is basically to raise them until they're old enough to be released. And then others come in with injuries and then we have to treat and release them."

"The response has been incredible," says DeMay. "The people of D.C. have definitely embraced the snowy owl as we have. So we're going to do our absolute best to make sure it's released and gets back to where it needs to be."

How it is believed the owl was hit by a bus is unclear. Metro officials say they have no evidence it was hit by one of theirs.

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