WILDLIFE

Little Owl with Mild skin Infection Unwillingly Takes a Bath, Dramatic appearance Change

Recently, a fluffy new patient was admitted to the Massey Wildbase animal hospital in New Zealand — a type of little owl called a morepork. He’d come down with a mild skin infection that was causing him irritation.

Fortunately for the little owl, it’s a relatively easy problem to treat. But there was one downside. He’d need to be given a bath.

According to Pauline Nijman, a supervisor at Wildbase, owls seem to dislike being all wet, even from rain. So, when it came time to give this owl a medicated bubble bath, Nijman knew ahead of time that he probably wouldn’t see it as being pampered.

“It was a big deal for both of us,” Nijman told The Dodo. Photos taken during the process show an owl who’s less than thrilled.

Turns out, much of an owl’s stately appearance actually comes from the puffiness of their plumage. Being soaked changes their look quite dramatically. “He’s a smaller kid but in lovely condition,” Nijman said. “[Though] once all the fluff is wet, they look frightfully pathetic!”

The owl was washed with chlorhexidine to address the infection, and then rinsed clean. “He was NOT pleased,” Nijman wrote.

Afterward, Nijman patted him down with a towel and placed him under an air blower to finish drying off. “He did dry up rather nicely!” Nijman said.

Once back to his old fluffy self, the rescued owl was returned to the clinic’s aviary, where he was joined by several other moreporks who are being rehabilitated there. “He has recovered well from his ‘ordeal,’” Nijman said.

Rescue owl needed a medicated bath for itchy skin. He is just fine now, I  can't stop laughing. : r/pics

With any luck, just that one medicinal bubble bath will be all that’s needed to clear up the owl’s skin issue. If that’s the case, he’ll be released back into the wild, good as new.

Massey Wildbase cares for hundreds of animals a year, many of whom are endangered species. But though the lifesaving treatments offered there, like the little owl’s bath, aren’t always welcome experiences, Nijman knows it’s all to help them get back to health. And that’s what matters most.

“It’s a privilege to be caring for such amazing birds and reptiles,” Nijman said.

Massey Wildbase is funded in part by donations from the public. To find out more about their work and how you can help, visit the clinic’s website.

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