The StoryIn 2013, a juvenile bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was found in western Wisconsin with an injured wing, unable to fly. Veterinarians determined the damaged wing was previously broken and healed poorly in the wild. Though efforts were made, the wing could not be repaired. A permanent home was needed. The eagle would not survive in the wild.
Making ChangesAround the same time, the Aquarium decided to make changes to its fresh water conservatory.
“Moving Luna, the albino alligator, to live with her natural colored cousins in a larger habitat created an
opportunity. Our staff researched, planned and invested in the idea of sharing the important conservation story of eagles and introducing our guests to these majestic animals,” said Aquarium Director Peggy Sloan.
However, finding the right match for both raptor and the Aquarium took time. Strict federal regulations and permitting requirements surround the protected species and took many months to secure. Finally, in February, the juvenile bald eagle traveled from Wisconsin to his new home in North Carolina.
Home Sweet HomeUpon arrival, staff gradually introduced the bird, who does not yet have a name, to his new surroundings. They carefully monitored the animal’s diet, behavior and health. They put finishing touches on his specially-designed habitat complete with perches of varied heights, soft moss and a water feature.
“The introduction of the eagle to the public is based on his adaptation to his surroundings,” said Aquarium Curator Hap Fatzinger. “His long-term health and well-being are our primary concern.”
Bird WatchingGuests may now meet the Aquarium’s newest animal ambassador in the fresh water conservatory. Some guests are surprised by the bird’s appearance. It will take several years for the young animal to grow the characteristic white head feathers and yellow beak of mature bald eagles. For now, he sports a mottled array of white and brown feathers.
What Could Have BeenHunting, habitat loss and the once widely-used pesticide DDT depleted the bald eagle population to near extinction in the mid-20th century. Populations have since recovered, supported by the Environmental Protection Agency ban of DDT in the 1970s and large-scale protection of nesting places.
TodayEagles were removed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in 2007, a conservation success seen in few animal species.
To Learn More Contact:
Call the Aquarium at (910) 458-8257
NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher