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Owl kicked by soccer player goes into shock and dies

March 1, 2011 |  1:22 pm

An owl that was purposely kicked while lying injured on the field during a soccer match in Colombia over the weekend died from shock Tuesday.

Initially the bird's injuries were thought to be minor, including a small fracture to the left leg, but veterinarian Camilo Tapia said the owl went into shock after being taken in for treatment Sunday.

The owl, which served as a mascot for the home team, Atletico Junior, landed near the corner of the field during Sunday's match against Deportivo Pereira in Barranquilla. It was first hit by the ball during a play and then kicked about three yards by Pereira defender Luis Moreno.

"I want to apologize to the fans," Moreno said after the match. "I was not trying to hurt the owl. I did it to see if it would fly.

"What I wanted to do was get it off the field. The kick was a product of tension on the field at the time."

Humberto Mendoza, the director of an agency that oversees environmental issues in Barranquilla, said his organization is "gathering information to determine the level of aggression." Mendoza said sanctions against Moreno are possible and that the player would have to pay the owl's treatment and volunteer at a local zoo.

Officials from Pereira and the Colombia football association also said Moreno could be suspended or fined.

The owl will be preserved by a local taxidermist and put on display at the stadium where it lived, according to the Barranquilla newspaper El Heraldo.

-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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