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Oh, Valentine’s Day. It’s the of the year when everyone is thinking about love and how to surprise that special someone in their life whether if it’s a friend, a partner, a parent, a kid, or an adorable fur baby. This could involve bringing them to see a movie (Disclaimer: I am waiting until March to bring my parents to see Captain Marvel in theaters), taking them out for a candlelight dinner, buying them gifts, marriage proposals, and so on. However, for one zoo in Pennsylvania, Valentine’s Day was involved teaming up with a local college to celebrate their very own version of what could be described as a “royal wedding” and it was apparently too adorable for the media attention that most royal couples receive when they celebrate their unions.
The animal care staff at the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown, Pennsylvania teamed up with Temple University to celebrate the “union” of its two owl mascots Stella and Sherlock on Valentine’s Day, which took place on zoo grounds and was “officiated” by Noah, a live bald eagle who serves as a mascot to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The great-horned owl pair, who have been together since 2013, is also very well known as wildlife education ambassadors at the zoo and help their caregivers teach the public about their species, and wildlife conservation in general. In a video that Elmwood Park Zoo posted on its website, caregivers talk about how the two owls can often be seen sitting on a perch together.
Stella came to the zoo from Washington state in 2011 while she began her ambassador career as Temple’s mascot two years later. As for her newly wedded partner Sherlock, well, he came to the zoo in 2012 after he recovered from severe injuries that were related to being hit by a car. After his recovery, Sherlock met Stella and the two have been together ever since. Today, Sherlock spends his days teaching guests about the natural history of the great-horned owl while Stella attends Temple’s athletic and other important events at Temple University.
As zoo ambassadors, Stella and Sherlock give zoo visitors the chance to see what the birds are like, what they sound like, how big they are, what they eat, and how they live since many of these people may never be able to see owls out in the wild since many species are considered to be nocturnal in nature.
As for the adorable wedding itself, the zoo staff said that the reason why they choose Valentine’s Day because it would allow the animals to get all of the limelight and fanfare that would perfectly go along with the February holiday. Since Stella is known for enjoying being in the spotlight, the staff said that they felt that it was a good choice for them.
Despite Stella’s diva-like personality and Sherlock’s homebody-like nature, the wedding ceremony was described as being an intimate event that consisted of just a very few friends. Rebecca Oulton, a zoo educator and one of Stella’s caregivers, served as a “maid of honor,” while Timothy Stephenson, another educator at the zoo, served as Sherlock’s “best man.” The two handlers helped the owls “tie the knot” with a piece of white ribbon that symbolized their five-year union being regarded as a “marriage.” Two Eastern screech owls named Munchkin and Zepplin took part in the wedding ceremony by tossing cherry rose petals to mark the celebration. With a progressive touch that was very much likely influenced by his team, Noah the Eagle “pronounced” Stella and Sherlock as “partners for life.”
It is said that weddings play a huge role in uniting communities, families, and friends together by enabling them to have a sense of solidarity in a way that other gatherings may not. The “marriage” of Stella and Sherlock serves as a symbol of a longtime friendship and unity between Elmwood Park Zoo’s community and Temple University’s community and both the zoo and the university hope that this wedding, which is just too cute for TV, to begin with, will inspire Temple’s students to develop a lifetime partnership with the will to learn.
Even though Valentine’s Day as has already passed at the time this article was written, all I can say is this: Stella and Sherlock have a way better love story than both Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey combined. True story.