Kennesaw State University’s owl has flown the nest.
Sturgis the KSU owl — the actual living owl, not the kid in the suit — said “Owl be seeing you” to the school after disagreements over his contract, according to university spokeswoman Tammy DeMel.
“The university and the owl’s owner were unable to reach an agreement during contract negotiations and came to the mutual decision to part ways,” DeMel said in a statement.
That owner is Daniel Walthers, who has also trained ravens to serve as live mascots for the Baltimore Ravens. Walthers was not available for comment Wednesday.
Sturgis is named after KSU’s first president, Horace Sturgis, whooo led the college from 1965 to 1980.
Sturgis — the Eurasian Eagle Owl, not the university president — saw his showbiz career take off at the university’s 2013 homecoming. Since then, the fledgling star has been a mainstay at football games, leading the team onto the field at the start of games.
Walthers raised the fledgling mascot from a chick at the Winding Woods Ranch in Commerce.
One group sure to hoot about Sturgis’ departure is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA. The avian’s introduction ruffled feathers within the animal rights group back in 2013.
They told everyone who would listen that a noisy sports arena full of screaming people, loud music and bright colors is not the most welcoming place for a bird.
“We should know better than to exploit animals for cheap amusement — especially at an institution of higher learning,” said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman in a 2013 statement. “PETA is calling on Kennesaw State to teach students the important lesson that animals belong in their natural habitats, not in a basketball arena.”
Walther previously told the MDJ Sturgis had been exposed to people and noises from a young age so he was completely comfortable at games.
For KSU sports fans flocking to Fifth Third Bank Stadium, this will be the first Sturgis-free football season.
DeMel said she is not aware of any plans to install a Sturgis 2.0, but die-hard raptor enthusiasts will still have a bird of prey to channel the positive vibes they send to the team.
“The University’s official mascot, Scrappy, will continue to help spread school spirit throughout Owl Nation,” she said.