A business is offering mourners the chance to give their loved ones a feathery farewell – by setting free OWLS.
While releasing doves has long been associated with memorial services, the Kent Owl Academy says they are making the ‘funerowls’ available for ceremonies due to popular demand.
Mollie King, director of the academy in Maidstone, which also offers the birds as ring-bearers at weddings, said she thinks seeing owls released into the sky will bring peace to mourners.
She said: “I have had the Kent Owl Academy for just over a year now and we have become quite popular.
“I have had a few people asking what the deal is with having owls at funerals and if that is something we can do.
“It is a brand new thing and it might take a while to get going but I want to be the go-to person for it.”
Packages begin at £200 and the birds can be booked for funerals, wakes, memorial gatherings and life celebrations.
Mollie said she has contacted funeral directors in an attempt to persuade venues to allow owls into ceremonies.
She added: “The demand seems to be there from the public.
“Having lost someone very close to me in November I have been trying to see what I could use my business for.
“You have only got to look at owls in mythology and they are meant to be wise and can see what people can’t see.
“Some spiritual thinkers might believe that owls are looking after their loved ones as they fly over the burial ground.”
Owls are one of the few birds to have been found in prehistoric cave paintings.
They have long been associated with life and death and today there are still many cultures that surround owls with myths.
In ancient Greece, owls were seen as a symbols of good fortune and the idea of the owl as a wise bird may have come from the bird’s association with Athene, the goddess of wisdom.
However Romans believed they were omens of impending doom and it was considered bad luck to see one before a battle.
Famous emperors including Julius Caesar and Augustus supposedly had their deaths predicted by a hooting owl.
In Indian folklore, the number of hoots are believed to be able to forecast the future, whether it be death, good fortune or arriving guests.
And in Tibet they are seen as divine messengers, while some Native Americans see owls as protective spirits of the recently departed, or even the embodiment of gods.