February 14, 2019


"The siren, the parking lot owls and the handsome owl from back east.”

Love is certainly in the air at the Children’s Zoo—most of it, sadly, unrequited. Staff hearts are also torn as we approach Valentine’s Day and watch this romantic drama unfold.

The Children’s Zoo has been home to Hawthorne, the barred owl, since 2009. Hawthorne came to the Zoo from a rehab center in Illinois as she was found injured and deemed non-releasable. Staff was unaware at the time that this donation would prove to have serious ramifications for the male barred owl population of Forest Park.

What slipped under the radar was that the Zoo was acquiring not just any old barred owl, but a beauty, and a siren. One who, as in ancient fables, calls to her suitors, drawing them in to roost near her habitat each night. These suitors work to win Hawthorne’s favor with their plaintive love calls. These wild owls form “the parking lot boys” of this complicated tale of love, roosting in the trees by Hawthorne’s habitat, calling and calling, their love ever unrequited.

Enter Aspen, the handsome owl from back East. Aspen is another rehab owl, formerly of the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. Aspen was acquired to keep Hawthorne company in her habitat.

Talk about a plot twist! Who is this interloper? How did he manage to get in Hawthorns habitat?

“The parking lot boys” double down at the nerve of this handsome intruder. The nightly serenade gets louder and louder as Valentine’s Day approaches, coinciding with the owls’ natural breeding season. “The parking lot boys” continue vying for Hawthorne’s heart, Aspen defends his place and our lovely siren continues to send out her promising call.

The North Parking Lot, once just an everyday spot for cars, has become a cacophony of owl calls as this love triangle plays out to its Valentine’s Day conclusion! #ZooCouples - Alice Seyfried, Curator of the Children’s Zoo

Be sure to Check out our other #ZooCouples!

Click here to learn about our Penguin “love birds.”