Nothing sparks the internet’s interest like a cute anecdote involving an animal or two. An owl has been just such a causing a stir online after photos of him before and after a bath went viral on Twitter. The original tweet, posted on Wednesday, has already racked up 37,000 likes in just two days.
Your Twitter feed needs these photos of a ruru (morepork) getting an antibacterial shampoo & blowdry at Wildbase Recovery Centre. This is why you don’t see owls fly in the rain 😂 #NotWaterProof #Morepork #Ruru #BirdWatching pic.twitter.com/XRcdnRbzl2
— Natalie Anderson PhD, RN (@CerebralNurse)
The owl, whose name was not provided, currently resides at Central Energy Trust Wildbase Recovery in Palmerston North on New Zealand’s North Island, where he is being prepared to resume life in the wild. He is a ruru, also known as a morepork, a species of owl native to New Zealand and Tasmania. While rurus, who take their name from the sound of their melancholic call, are not currently considered threatened, according to the New Zealand Department of Conservation, they face predation and habitat loss.
“There’s literally nothing to them, they’re all fluff,” Wildbase hospital and recovery supervisor Pauline Nijman told The New Zealand Herald. The birds only weigh about 80 grams—less than a pound. But what they lack in size they make up for in personality.
“They’re hilarious to work with because they have so much attitude—they click and stand up and posture, and try and tell you they are the biggest and most ferocious animal you will ever come across,” Nijman added.
The ruru was bathed after staff at Wildbase noticed bacteria on his skin. Desirous of preventing infection from setting in, they decided to treat him to a luxury not found in his natural habitat: a bubble bath.
“We washed him with a medical soap that surgeons use on their hands, so it kills bacteria. I gave him a wash, like I would do for an oiled bird, focusing on the skin,” Nijman said. “We wash them in a bath at 40 degrees because that’s their body temperature, and after that, he has a nice wee shower to get rid of all the soap suds of his feathers.” The shower was followed by a blow-drying session.
The difference between the ruru’s appearance when he was dry and when he was wet was so striking that Twitter user Natalie Anderson shared photos of him on her account. In the first, the ruru is fluffy, his plumage voluminous; in the second, he is bedraggled and scrawny. Anderson’s tweet had many commenters marveling at the contrast.
you mean to tell me that the photo on the left is a bierd of prey?
— medusa (@tinykinseyscale)
Talk about a bad feather day 😄
— Battle Weary Woman (@3wombats)
The ruru is one of several currently receiving care at Wildbase, according to the Herald. The recovery center is also home to many other birds and reptiles, including blue ducks, white-faced herons, and tuataras.
This content was originally published here.