Washington heartbroken after bus hits beloved snowy owl

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 01 2014 09:00 AM | Updated as of Feb 02 2014 07:05 PM

WASHINGTON - A majestic snowy owl that has in recent days captured the hearts of Washington, a city obsessed with its zoo's giant panda cub, was being treated after a bus apparently hit it this week.

The large bird that has gained something of a cult following after perching atop landings and monuments near the White House suffered a broken toe and possible internal injuries, the wildlife clinic tending to it said.

The Arctic creature is in stable condition and being "kept quiet, cool, fed and closely monitored," City Wildlife said on Twitter, noting the bird was being fed and given pain, medication, antibiotics and fluids.

"We have postponed taking radiographs until we receive the results of the blood work in case there is any abnormality that would put the bird at risk during anesthesia."

The animal shelter noted that it may not receive lab test results before Monday.

The snowy owl, with its white plumage and yellow eyes, had captivated onlookers for more than a week, having seemingly blown in during a burst of Arctic air that saw temperatures plummet across the region.

The bird's appearances, whether on store awnings, park benches or tree branches, were chronicled by large crowds of gawkers on social media and by local news outlets.

After being struck by the city bus and picked up by Metropolitan Police, the snowy owl was taken to the National Zoo's hospital then transferred to City Wildlife, which treats small wild animals found in the capital.

Bao Bao, the giant panda cub whose gestation, birth and recent first appearance have captivated local attention and given rise to endless media reports, has not been superseded in Washingtonians' obsession with the furry and feathered, however.

The cub's National Zoo guardians said that she "continues to grow steadily, and is becoming more active and inquisitive with each passing day."

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