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 Rescue 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 rescue after apparently being hit by a car and suffering head trauma, Doug was called upon to bring his considerable skills to bear in her recovery.
GiGi was in poor shape when she met Doug. In addition to a concussion, GiGi also suffered from parasites and aspergillosis, an affliction that mimics pneumonia in humans. She lost a pound of weight, considerable when you consider that great horned owls only weigh between 2 and 5 pounds when healthy. The founder of the rescue, Missy Dubuisson, stated that she was “one of the most critical we have ever taken care of.The fact that this bird has lived is beyond comprehension.” Doug was able to slowly bring GiGi around, first helping her to perch and then to progress from being hand fed to feeding herself. The recovery was outstanding, but no one knew how much love GiGi had developed for her caretaker until he went away for a brief trip to Michigan to visit family.
Upon Doug’s return, GiGi responded in an amazing way. After sitting on Doug’s arm and bobbing with excitement, GiGi moved up Doug’s chest, rested her head on his shoulder, and spread her wings in the unmistakable gesture of a hug. “It literally brings tears to my eyes to watch him interact with these birds,” Dubuisson said. “They absolutely know him and trust him. It’s the trust that you see in her face.” Clearly, GiGi has the capability to feel and show gratitude and love.