Owl of delight: New arrival takes to the air

GLORIA the 11-week-old European eagle owl made her first aerial sortie outside her enclosure yesterday.

• Keeper Steph Green with 11-week-old European eagle owl Gloria at Blair Drummond Safari Park yesterday. Picture: PA

Keeper Steph Green took the bird on her maiden flight at Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling.

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Gloria has become a major attraction since she arrived at the park a month ago where she is being trained to take part in regular hawk-flying demonstrations in the next few weeks.

Falconer Ross Bibby said Gloria was a "little cracker" of a bird and he was very proud of her progress. He said she had "a thing about socks" and had stolen one of his and clutched it in her sleep "like a teddy bear".

He added: "It is a proud day for us - every step forward is a great step."

Gloria's wing span could reach 7ft, the largest of any owl.