Happy Nurses Day!

Happy Nurses Day! What did Florence Nightingale find in Greece and carry in the pocket of her nursing apron? An owl.

This is the true story of Athena the owlet, as told by Florence’s sister Parthenope. Florence found the baby owl when she was visiting the Parthenon in Greece. She took care of the injured owlet, nursing it back to health and hand-feeding it. She then brought the owl back to England (apparently Customs were less particular in 1850), where Athena lived in the family home as a pet for the next 5 years. Flo taught Athena to bow and curtsy, and carried her around in her pocket.

When Florence was in London preparing for her trip to the Crimea, Athena died. The family took the owl to a taxidermist and had her preserved and mounted in a box frame. To cheer her up over the loss of her pet, her sister Parthenope wrote and illustrated a book about Athena’s life and death and sent it to her sister in Scutari. The stuffed Athena now resides in the Florence Nightingale Museum in London.