Thursday, April 17, 2014
O is for . . .
Image courtesy: Ken Douglas
Ochlophobia, the fear of owls. Now, I'm not afraid of owls in general. I think they are beautiful. If I hear one call out in the night, I don't believe someone's going to kick the bucket, unless it's a mouse or a rabbit. But as a former zookeeper who worked in a birdhouse, I can understand this phobia a little better than most.
Back in the early 90s, the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, S.C. had a huge birdhouse housing over a hundred feathered critters, half a dozen of which were owls. There was one bad boy (or maybe it was a girl) who really, really did not want any stinking humans invading its cage. I think it was a variety of an eagle owl, but I can't remember which one. Anyway, one day a keeper entered this owl's cage with hose in hand and exited with a wicked gash that went down to their skull. This wound was from the talons, not the beak.
After that little incident, a helmet was placed outside this exhibit in case anyone had to go in. As for hosing, that was done from inside the hall, with the door cracked open two inches. Ochlophobia--yeah, there's at least one owl I am afraid of, deeply afraid.
How do you regard owls? As harbingers of doom or symbols of wisdom? Have you ever seen an owl in the wild?