Sometimes, animals are capable of the most remarkable displays of affection that are so human-like that one cannot help but think these creatures experience emotion just like humans. Such is the case with GiGi, a great horned owl who recently showed her affection toward Douglas “Doug” Pojeky.
Doug is the president of Mississippi’s Wild at Heart Ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇ and is known for his expertise with birds of prey, a skill that has earned him the nickname “birds of prey whisperer.” When GiGi arrived at the ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇ after apparently being ʜɪᴛ by a car and sᴜꜰꜰᴇʀɪɴɢ ʜᴇᴀᴅ ᴛʀᴀᴜᴍᴀ, Doug was called upon to bring his considerable skills to bear in her recovery.
GiGi was in poor shape when she met Doug. She suffered a massive concussion, her body was full of ᴘᴀʀᴀsɪᴛᴇs and she had a condition called ᴀsᴘᴇʀɢɪʟʟᴏsɪs, which is similar to ᴘɴᴇᴜᴍᴏɴɪᴀ in humans. She was so ill that during the course of her treatment, she lost a whole pound of weight, which is around 20-50% of her overall weight.
Ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇ founder and director Miss Dubison told Dodo: “This bird is one of the most crucial we’ve ever cared for. It’s hard to understand that this bird is ᴀʟɪᴠᴇ.”
Without Douglas Pojeky, the center’s president, Gigi would not have received the care she needs. The owl seems to have been well aware of this, as the prison was tied up with Pojeki, known by local rehabilitators as “birds of prey.”
Dubuisson explains that Pojeky helped Gigi to perch again and hand-fed her until she was able to eat on her own. When Pojeky arrived at the scene a few days later, the owl showed her affection. She moped when he did not come but was quick to greet him when he returned. Gigi rests her head on her shoulder and wraps her wings around him.
Dubuisson Said, It brings tears to my eyes to see how he deals with these birds. They know him entirely and trust him. It’s the confidence you see in her face.”
Pojeky had been a trip to Michigan, visiting family, leaving GiGi without his company for awhile. 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.
GiGi has since been released back into her natural habitat, but not without giving another final “Thank You.”
“Missy and I always say that when they look back it’s like they’re saying ‘Thank you,’ and 99 percent of the animals look back,” Pojecky said. “When (GiGi) looked back, it definitely felt like gratitude to me.”