This was a sad story to see on the morning news. A tame Barn Owl, the mascot for Columbian soccer team Atletico Junior, was thrown onto the field during a game against Deportivo Pereira of Panama. It was sitting there minding its own business, when it was hit by a wayward soccer ball and then laid there stunned with its wings spread out. That's when Deportivo Pereira defenseman Luis Moreno kicked it about 3-4 yards. Supposedly he was frustrated because his team was losing and the game had to be stopped while the players and referees decided what to do about the owl. He claims he didn't know it was Atletico Junior's mascot, he thought it was just a stray bird. Even still! It's unbelievable that he would do that.
If you want to see the video (bird lovers- this is not for the faint of heart), you can see it here http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/75811,life,video,fury-as-footballer-luis-moreno-kicks-opposition-owl-mascot-to-death-in-colombia-video
The owl suffered a broken right leg after the kick, and hung in there for two days until it died Tuesday after going into shock. There are reports that Luis Moreno has been getting death threats, which is upsetting to him and his family of course. I can understand that the Atletico Junior fans are hurt and upset, but violence is never the answer. I do believe that he should be forced to face his actions and somehow try to make amends with Atletico Junior and their fans.
Turns out Columbia doesn't have any laws against animal cruelty, so he's not facing and legal sanctions, but he may face the disciplinary committee for his soccer league.
Some interesting facts about the Barn Owl:
- It is one of the most widely-distributed birds in the world, appearing on all continents except Antarctica
- It's one of the few species where the female is more showy than the male (with more spots on her chest)
- The Barn Owl's ability to locate prey by sound alone is the best of any animal tested.