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Doug Pojeky, president of the Wild at Heart Rescue, a wild animal rehabilitation center located in Vancleave, Mississippi, was returning to work after being away at a family event when he got a heartwarming surprise.

A few weeks before Pojeky left for his trip, he had been assisting the founder of Wild at Heart Rescue, Missy Dubuisson, in rehabilitating a great horned owl who had been hurt in a car crash. The owl, named GiGi, had suffered head injuries and a lung infection from the accident, but with the help of Pojeky she was able to make a full recovery.

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It seemed that GiGi didn’t forget this act of kindness, as when Pojeky returned to the rehabilitation center he was greeted by her with a full-on owl hug. Photos that captured the unique moment showed the owl spreading her wings around Pojeky and nuzzling her head against his neck. They were posted to Facebook where they quickly went viral.

‘I’ve never quite had the feeling that I had when that owl just nuzzled her neck against mine,” Pojeky told TODAY. “I’ve worked with a lot of birds of prey that come in, but the connection I have with them is nothing like this owl giving me a hug.”

According to the original Facebook post, the bird of prey “threw both wings around him and gave him an owl hug” when he first approached her. It claims that the GiGi became calmed by the presence of her rescuer, and that she had laid her head on his shoulders out of “pure contentment.”

For more information on stories about animals, click here.

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