- Associated Press - Saturday, December 21, 2019

VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP) - A northern Indiana wildlife center’s staff is mourning the death of an owl that was its longtime winged ambassador and also nurtured more 20 baby owls until they could be released into the wild.

Drew, a eastern screech owl, was found dead in mid-December in his enclosure at Humane Indiana Wildlife in Valparaiso, where the rehabilitation center’s staff said he died of old age.

The center said in a message it was announcing the death of the white and brown-speckled owl with “a very heavy heart.”

The raptor was taken to the center in 2016 by a resident, who rescued Drew after he was struck by a vehicle in nearby Chesterton.

The accident left the owl blinded in his left eye but that didn’t stop Drew from being an active ambassador on behalf of his feathered family.

Drew and his human coworker, Nicole, took part in more than 250 outreach programs and center said said that more than 15,000 people, many of them children, met the owl, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

In spring and summer months Drew was a surrogate father to orphaned eastern screech owl babies that he took under his wing and later released back into the wild.

The center said that those owls “will have a much better chance at a long life due to his parental influence.”

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