Updated 03/19/2013 06:04 PM
Snowy owls debut at the Binghamton Zoo
Some new faces are landing at the Binghamton Ross Park Zoo. The zoo received two snowy owls. Our Melissa Kakareka got a sneak peek before the birds are put on display to the public.
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BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Some people might be upset about a snow storm in mid-March. But snowy owls Blizzard and Storm couldn't be happier. In fact, their feathers blend right into the snow that lines their new home at the Binghamton Ross Park Zoo.
"In fact, I came in this morning to service the area and I didn't even see him. I had to wait for him to move around before I knew where to step," said Binghamton Zoo Animal Curator Dave Orndorff.
The birds are on loan from the Columbus Zoo. They will be set up to breed with one another in Binghamton. It's all part of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium's plan to increase the genetic diversity of the captive snowy owl population in North America.
Female snowy owls can lay up to nine eggs at once. Mating season begins in late May and eggs will hatch after an incubation period of 32 days.
"Their genetics, their bloodlines, have not been represented in North America before. So getting their bloodlines in the North American breeding blood lines is very important. That means getting them to breed, getting their offspring out to other facilities that have birds or want to work with birds, so we can establish more birds in breeding situations," said Orndorff.
Snowy owls are usually found in areas such as Canada, Alaska and Europe and only a small number exist in zoos in North America. Blizzard and Storm originally hatched in Germany.
The Ross Park Zoo says having these rare and unique owls in Binghamton means a lot for the zoo and the community.
"That Columbus Zoo selected us to have these birds says a lot about our abilities here and capabilities and also our community. You know community zoo, we're here for the community, and that they wanted to send them to Binghamton, says a lot about the area,"
Officials are hoping that they will be able to keep Blizzard and Storm or their offspring at the zoo as permanent residents in the future.
The snowy owls won't be the only new animals at the zoo this season. The zoo also recently added a new Amur tiger and three African penguins.
Visitors can see all of the animals during the Zoo's "Eggstravaganza" on March 30th and 31st or when the zoo opens for the season in April.