Rare snowy owl now on view at Budakeszi Wildlife Park
There’s a new resident at the Budakeszi Wildlife Park, the forest menagerie on the outskirts of Budapest. Usually at home on the northern tundra, Bella the Snowy Owl has just arrived from Ostrava in the Czech Republic, and can be considered a real rarity for a Central-European zoo. And park management is also waiting on another newcomer – a mate for Bella.
Although the Budakeszi Wildlife Park primarily focuses on species native to Hungary and Carpathian Basin, creatures such as moose and bison have found their way here.
Snowy owls are native to the northern tundra, and are very rare in Hungary – only a few stray specimens can be seen when the Arctic wastelands do not provide enough food.
Highly protected, the snowy owl is about half a metre tall and weighs 1.5 to two kilos. They build their nests at high altitudes on the open tundra, on a hilltop, on rocks or in recesses. They lay their eggs in May and June, with an average of four to nine in the nest, up to 14 in times of plenty.
Like the other predatory birds, the males are smaller than females, but the two sexes can also be distinguished by their plumage. While the male is almost white, females have black flecks on their heads. Like most large birds, snowy owls live for a relatively long time, on average up to ten years.
Bella may not be on her own for much longer as a mate is being sought.
Budakeszi Wildlife Park spreads over nearly 30 hectares, with hunting watch posts and lookout towers to help you observe residents such as pheasants, steppe eagles, lynx and bear.
To reach it, take bus 22, 22A or 222 from Széll Kálmán tér and alight at Szanatórium utca. From there, it’s a 15-minute walk through the woods.
Open: Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat-Sun 9am-6pm
Tickets: 1,900 HUF, discounts 1,200 HUF, under-14s 900 HUF