September 1, 2014

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Theater worker, wildlife director rescue snowy owl in basement of theater

Amy LeMonds and Mike Tillman, the worker who found a snowy owl in Lorain’s Palace Theatre, walk out of the theater Thursday with the owl. BRUCE BISHOP / CHRONICLE

Amy LeMonds and Mike Tillman, the worker who found a snowy owl in Lorain’s Palace Theatre, walk out of the theater Thursday with the owl. BRUCE BISHOP / CHRONICLE

LORAIN — It’s unusual to see a snowy owl in Ohio. It’s even more unusual to see a snowy owl stuck in the basement of a movie theater in Lorain.

However, that’s what Mike Tillman saw when he went down to the basement of the Palace Theatre, 617 Broadway, Lorain, on Thursday morning.

“I thought someone was down there. It scared me to death,” Tillman said of the moment when he saw the white owl sitting in a dark corner.

The snowy owl that was trapped inside the basement of the Lorain Palace Theatre complex is held Thursday by Amy LeMonds, director of wildlife at Lake Erie Nature and Science Center in Bay Village, while it receives a checkup.

The snowy owl that was trapped inside the basement of the Lorain Palace Theatre complex is held Thursday by Amy LeMonds, director of wildlife at Lake Erie Nature and Science Center in Bay Village, while it receives a checkup.

Tillman, a maintenance worker at the theater, was going to the basement for the first time in two weeks to check the water pipes when he saw the owl, which was moving around the area with ease, Tillman said. “He knew the area.”

Tillman immediately called animal control and Amy LeMonds, director of wildlife at the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center, was contacted to come to pick up the owl and bring it to her facility.

It is the first time in her eight years of working at the Center that a snowy owl has been treated there, she said.

After saving and examining the owl, LeMonds and other workers at the facility didn’t find signs of trauma to the owl. However, they still have concerns about its health due to an apparent lack of food.

“The amount of emaciation we’re seeing is huge,” LeMonds said, adding that the owl had been without food for so long that it will have to be rehydrated and put on a substitute diet before it can start eating its regular food.

Since snowy owls can go a few days without food, the severity of emaciation in this owl’s case suggests to LeMonds that it had been stuck in the basement for more than a week.

It is partly because of the owl’s low weight that workers at the center are unable to tell whether the owl is male or female and whether it’s an adult or child, LeMonds said.

The Nature and Science Center is still in the early phases of nursing the owl back to health, but when it is ready, they plan to release it back into the wild.

Contact Anna Merriman at 329-7245 or amerriman@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnaLMerriman.

  • Phil Blank

    The door on the roof to the Eagle’s building is wide open to the weather.
    Someone needs to get up there and close the door!

  • Phil Blank

    I checked this morning, some one got up there and closed the door.