Posted February 13, 2019

Owl you need is love: Stella and Sherlock’s wedding

For Temple’s live mascot Stella and her longtime partner Sherlock, it was love at first flight. Now, they’re officially married.

Video Production: Louis Peluyera and Gina Poulos

Sometimes, all it takes to spark real, lasting love is a single, shared moment. Getting caught in the rain. Catching each other’s eye from across the room. Finding you both love soaking up the morning sunshine that hits your perch at the Elmwood Park Zoo, which is exactly what sparked love for two owls.

Two, very real, very live owls.

“One of my first memories of Stella and Sherlock is from when they would sit on their perch. It was very cute to see them next to each other,” said Rebecca Oulton, an educator at Elmwood Park Zoo.

And now, five years after they met, Stella and Sherlock are starting the next chapter of their love story—they’ve said “I do.”

Stella and Sherlock with their handlers and officiant at the alter on their wedding day at the Elmwood Park Zoo.
Timothy Stephenson and Rebecca Oulton, both educators at the Elmwood Park Zoo, fulfill their duties as best man and maid of honor to Stella and Sherlock by helping the two officiallyand literallytie the knot. Photography by: Betsy Manning

But how exactly did their love story start? And, we have to ask, does everyone know who Stella and Sherlock are? If you don’t know Stella, don’t worry, you’re not alone. If you don’t know Sherlock, well, no one really does. Or did, until now.

Both great horned owls are education ambassadors at the Elmwood Park Zoo and help teach the public about their species and wildlife conservation. Originally from Washington State, Stella came to Elmwood Park Zoo in 2011 and began her career as Temple’s live mascot in 2013.  

Sherlock, proving that opposites really do attract, is more of a homebody. He came to the Elmwood Park Zoo in 2012 under unfortunate circumstances. When he lived in the wild, he was struck by a car and severely injured. As he recovered at the zoo, he found love with Stella. Now he spends his days teaching zoo visitors about the natural behaviors and characteristics of great horned owls while Stella goes out to Temple athletic events or other special programs.

“The public doesn’t get to see these animals in the wild, so here at the zoo they get to see what they look like, what they sound like, how big they really are,” said Timothy Stephenson, an educator at Elmwood Park Zoo.

The two love birds are united by their service, and, of course, their affinity for their sunny perch.

“Valentine’s Day is a perfect date for the two of them because they get all of the limelight and the fanfare that goes along with the holiday,” said Oulton. “And I know Stella definitely likes to be in the spotlight so it was a wonderful choice for the two.”

Though Stella has been described as a diva, the ceremony was an intimate event with just a few close friends. Oulton was Stella’s maid of honor and Stephenson was Sherlock’s best man. Noah, a bald eagle and the official live mascot for the Philadelphia Eagles, officiated their union.

Eastern screech owls Munchkin and Zeppelin tossed cherry rose petals—the couple’s favorite color—to mark the occasion. And with another simple, shared moment, Stella and Sherlock tied the knot.

Two eastern screech owls sitting on the ground with rose petals.
Eastern screech owls Munchkin and Zeppelin were excited to celebrate their owl friends and for the opportunity to play with rose petals. Photography by: Betsy Manning

“Weddings play an important role in uniting communities and helping them to generate a sense of solidarity,” said Associate Professor of Sociology Dustin Kidd. “The marriage of Stella and Sherlock is also an affirmation of the important relationship between the university and the community, as represented in the partnership with Elmwood Park Zoo. We hope it inspires Temple students to forge a lifelong partnership with learning.”

Follow Stella and Sherlock’s love story on social media and check out their wedding day playlist. Or share your own story with #OwlentinesDay.

A sign welcoming all to Stella and Sherlock's wedding at the Elmwood Park Zoo.
The Elmwood Park Zoo served as the perfect location for the ceremony. It's where the couple met and have lived together for several years. Photography by: Betsy Manning

As education ambassadors, Stella and Sherlock are not part of an exhibit at the Elmwood Park Zoo. They may only be seen by participating in programs at the zoo or outreach programs at other locations. Learn more about how to see the owls and explore the Elmwood Park Zoo’s educational offerings.

—Samantha Krotzer