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Our eyes widened as we walked into the splendid bird haven gawking at some of the most magnificent birds in the world. Parrots, Eagles, vultures, pelicans, buzzards, storks, and barn owls, some birds I’d never seen up close, were home at the Naivasha Owl Center on the shores of Lake Naivasha. I felt like I was in one of Hogwarts Magical Chambers that I had willed to life with my mind. Even with such a beautiful sight, you are distracted by the laughing lady at the center of the group talking about her life with the pelican that swallowed the spoon.

“I simply opened it beak wider, reached in, felt a murky ball of what I thought was digested fish, pushed it aside, pushed deeper, felt for it and removed it!” Ms Sarah Higgins said matter-of-factly at the Naivasha Owl Center. She explained that they did not have any veterinarian nearby and the bird was dying.  She was desperate to save it.

Sarah Higgins loved her birds and would do anything for them to have a wonderful home, including turning her home into a sanctuary! Sarah, a lovely kind lady, was a hoot to be with. ANAW staff and partners found great pleasure in visiting the center. Her interaction with the birds, care for them and provision of shelter reflected key animal welfare principles that are desired as the ideal. With open arms, she welcomed ANAW as the organization sought to support her project through partnership, education and awareness.

Ms Sarah Higgins partnered with Shiv Kapila and Kenya’s leading raptor expert and falconer, Simon Thomsett to run Naivasha Owl Center at the shores of Lake Naivasha.

She started the center, then known as the Little Barn Owl Sanctuary, for the 23 owls, 18 raptors a vulture and two marabou storks. It all started when she found a barn owl nursing a broken wing. It took some time for the wing to heal which necessitated Sarah to take care of her for a while. She established an owlery where the birds are treated, fed and the released back to the wild. It has been 14 years since. Together with Thompsett, they have had over 190 birds.

Sarah was a delight and was friendly to everyone who came by to her home. Not one to be forgotten. She was often seen in her beautiful garden talking in a rich British drawl to Tai, the haughty owl.

Rest in Peace, Ms. Higgins. You will continue to be a joy in our hearts forever.

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced.

Live your life in a manner so that when you die the world cries and you rejoice.

– Native American Proverb –