Maryland Zoo mourns death of snowy owl

Sophie, the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore's resident snowy owl, died Saturday during surgery, zoo officials announced Thursday.

In death, Sophie, 4, joins her companion at the zoo, a 13-year-old male snowy owl named Wesley, who died in November.

"Sophie had recurring medical issues, and with intensive treatment and supportive care from animal and medical staff, she was able to recover from those problems in the past," said Mike McClure, the zoo's general curator. "Unfortunately this time, after two weeks of intensive treatment, she did not respond."

Snowy owls, with their brilliant white feathers, are among the largest owls, weighing from 3.5-6.5 pounds. They are usually found in northern North America and Eurasia, although they have been observed as far south as Texas, Georgia and even the Caribbean.

"Snowy owls are not easy to obtain," said McLure, noting the staff is committed to making some changes in the birds' Baltimore home before re-introducing them to the zoo.

"We are committed to this important species," he said, "and will be making some changes before bringing them back."

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