The Jay C. Hormel Nature Center issued the following press release this morning:

It is with great sorrow that we bring the news of the passing of our beloved barred owl, Guka. He has been a staple of programs and visits to the nature center for 17 years and has touched thousands of lives of adults and children alike. Barred owls’ live expectancy is 8-10 years in the wild and upwards of 20 in captivity so while our staff is devastated it is not completely out of the blue.

Back when Guka was around a year old he got hit by a car, sustaining injuries that made him un-releasable back into the wild. He found his forever home with us shortly after and lived the next 17 years of his life completely spoiled and loved by all nature center staff. The past few weeks his health started to deteriorate rapidly and to ensure the utmost comfort for him in his last days the decision had to be made to say goodbye with heavy hearts.

Guka taught thousands of children in his life and instilled a love of the natural world with his unparalleled cuteness and relaxed attitude. We know he will be in the hearts of many and his memory will live on.

Some of you might be asking what’s next? While Guka’s enclosure will remain empty for the immediate future, there will be a time where we will find another raptor in need of a great home and another education bird will join our family. Until then, fly high Guka, you will be missed.

-Jay C. Hormel Nature Center Staff