GiGi, the great horned owl pictured above, was recently saved by the Mississippi-based Wild at Heart Rescue organization. And when GiGi was reunited with the man who saved her life, she expressed her gratitude with a hug more heartwarming than any you’ve surely seen in a long, long time.
In late May, GiGi was taken in by Wild at Heart after suffering massive head trauma in what was presumed to be a collision with a car, in addition to a case of a pneuomonia-like condition called aspergillosis as well as parasite problems.
“This bird was one of the most critical we have ever taken care of,” said Missy Dubuisson, director of the charity. “The fact that this bird has lived is beyond comprehension.”
The main reason GiGi did live is the heroic effort of Wild at Heart president Doug Pojeky. He nursed GiGi back to health and formed a bond with her unlike any Dubuisson said she’d ever seen before.
GiGi and Pojeky’s time together was interrupted, however, when he went to visit family in Michigan. Upon his return, he gave GiGi an examination and she gave him the show of love and gratitude you see above and below.
Pojeky spoke to The Dodo, who described the scene:
“After Pojeky returned, he gave GiGi an examination, and she immediately started bobbing her head and dancing on his arm. Then, she slowly walked up to his chest, rested her head on his shoulder and draped her wings around him in a fully fledged owl hug.”
Thankfully for GiGi and the rest of America’s great horned owls, the species is not classified as endangered.
However, the biggest threats that these birds face do come from humans. According to The Nature Conservancy, land development by humans eliminates both nesting and hunting territories for these birds, and our use of pesticides and insecticides can often end up harming them as well.
But fortunately in GiGi’s case, human interaction — of a truly special kind — is actually what saved her life.