Friday, Dec. 08, 2023 |
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Pana‘ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens on Sunday unveiled a revitalized bird habitat and its “outgoing” new tenant.
The new inhabitant is Lilinoe, a pueo or Hawaiian short-eared owl.
Lilinoe, who was named by zoo staff, was recently rescued under unfortunate circumstances. Due to the severity of her condition, she could not be returned to the wild.
“We are in contact with a vet who treats wildlife on the west side, and while they were rehabbing Lilinoe, he reached out to see if we had the space to keep her, which we did,” zoo Administrator Mindy Runnells said. “Since she was being taken care of at a vet, it was a little easier to get her in the zoo. However, it does take a village of different parties that have to line up perfectly to get the process done quickly.”
The State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources entrusted the zoo with Lilinoe’s care, and she has been healthy while getting used to her new habitat.
“Having a gorgeous bird in this beautiful, new exhibit is so exciting, especially because, thankfully, turnover for animals doesn’t happen much. Seeing something new is more rare for the zoo,” Runnells said. “This girl is an outgoing bird, and she loves to sit out. I think she will continue to do really well.”
The Friends of the Pana‘ewa Zoo funded the improved pueo habitat, which was then prepared by the zoo’s staff.
“Our wonderful Friends of the Zoo funded the rehab and kept it amazingly under budget. There were structural issues addressed, but staff were able to use different parts not in use around the zoo as to not procure more stuff,” Runnells said. “We want our structures to blend in with the surroundings, and this is the beginning of what I want every exhibit to emulate.”
The extensive renovation involved replacing aged wooden components, pouring concrete, installing new aviary mesh material, applying new coats of paint, and introducing native plants to enhance the habitat both within and surrounding the enclosure.
“We are committed to improving our zoo because it serves as a special place for our kids and families to explore and learn about wildlife,” said Mayor Mitch Roth in a press release. “Our administration is dedicated to creating a better future for the keiki of Hawaii Island, and having safe and educational spaces is essential for this mission. We’re excited for our residents to check out the newly renovated pueo exhibit and meet our new pueo friend.”
The renovation of the pueo exhibit marks another significant step in enhancing the visitor experience at the zoo, while also contributing to the welfare of wildlife in need of care and protection, according to Runnells.
“Our staff has done such a great job. They manage everything so well and are providing the most amazing life for animals here,” Runnells said. “I’ve always tried to lead with the idea that our quality of work equals the quality of life these animals have and our staff is excelling by creating excellent environments each animal.”
Those interested in seeing Lilinoe and the other nearly 300 individual animals can visit the zoo for free daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Email Kelsey Walling at firstname.lastname@example.org
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