She educated the masses about birds, appeared on shows like Animal Planet, inspired festivals around the world, and even helped change Minnesota law to protect her species.

Alice the Great Horned Owl, synonymous with the International Owl Center in Houston, Minn., is retiring.

There is a party in her honor, beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday. Gifts? Bring cardboard egg cartons; she loves to shred them.

Center executive director Karla Bloem said there has been “a huge reaction” to Alice’s retirement after 20 years as the center’s ambassador bird -- a role she has had since she was 1 ½.

“After 20 years, Alice is an institution unto herself with her fan base and major accomplishments,” wrote Bloem in an e-mail to the Star Tribune. “Tens of thousands have met her from TV, newspaper, radio, books, etc. She is anything but an ‘average’ education bird. She has honestly changed the world.”

Karla Kinstler, then-director of the Houston Nature Center, and her mascot Alice petitioned for the species’ protection in Minnesota, and a bill was signed in 2005 removing the great horned owl from the “unprotected” list.

Bloem said the “owl staff” now consists of four birds:

-Uhu, a Eurasian eagle-owl, who is the next oldest at 6

-Ruby, 4, a great horned owl (“and taking over for Alice,” Bloem said)

-Piper, 2,  a barn owl

-JR, a newly acquired eastern screech owl from Illinois, who is 5 ½ months

The retirement party includes a program about Alice’s life and impact. As for Alice’s attendance, she’ll be visible via security camera from her secured room.

Find more details about Saturday’s event at

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