Skip to Main Content

Great Horned Owl Takes Flight after Rehabilitation at the Great Plains Zoo

September 27, 2017

A rehabilitated Great Horned Owl was released back into the wild today on the grounds of the Great Plains Zoo by Zoo’s animal care team. 

The Owl was brought to the Zoo by a South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks officer after the bird was found unable to fly in Harrisburg. The Zoo’s staff quickly stabilized the Owl and nursed it back to a healthy weight while rebuilding its flight skills in an outdoor training area. After a successful rehabilitation, the Owl was released in a secluded area on the grounds of the Great Plains Zoo, allowing it to return to the wild.  

“The Great Plains Zoo team was happy to watch this majestic bird take flight and return to the wild today,” said Elizabeth A. Whealy, President and CEO of the Great Plains Zoo. “Our highly-skilled animal care team plays a significant role in regional conservation efforts by dedicating their time and talent to rehabilitating animals like this Great Horned Owl.”

In addition to caring for more than 1,000 animals, the Great Plains Zoo serves as a regional rehabilitation facility for native wildlife. In this role, the Zoo actively rehabilitates wild birds that are sick or injured for re-release into the wild. The Zoo coordinates with area veterinarians, animal control officers and the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks to receive injured birds from throughout the region. In addition to the Great Horned Owl released today, the Zoo has previously released a Bald Eagle, Great Horned Owl, Eastern Screech Owl, Krider’s Red-Tailed Hawk, Snowy Owl and two American Kestrels.

The Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Visit the Zoo online at or call 605-367-7003 for more information about the Zoo and Museum.

About the Great Plains Zoo

The Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering a greater understanding of our natural world through education, conservation, recreation and discovery. The Great Plains Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) – a leader in wildlife conservation. Less than 10% of animal institutions in the United States have met the high standards for AZA accreditation.


  • Love this zoo! Great place to get a walk in and the animals are everywhere! The museum/indoor part is very educational too. Has a lot of shade for when it's hot out. Very clean. Friendly staff.

    Taylor F.
  • We love to visit the zoo. They have great outdoor exhibits and lots to do inside as well. Great for kids and adults.

    Robin A.
  • Lots of great exhibits and animals to see! Fun gift shop and learning center.

    Stephanie N.
  • The museum gives you a break from the sun on hot summer days and has a great selection of animal exhibits from around the world. ¬†The zoo keeps growing and adding new animal habitats or improving existing ones. ¬†Membership offers reciprocal benefits to other zoos around the country.

    Bill T.