Monday, April 27, 2009

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers 04/27/2009

If you were at this year’s Wishes for Wildlife you may have noticed or missed seeing our golden eagle, Apache.  It is the first time he has missed a fundraiser since we started introducing our guests to our education birds….at least 16 years.

A little bit about Apache’s background will help you understand our tribute to him.  He came to us about 23 years ago after an unfortunate encounter with a semi outside of Rye, AZ.  He was picked up by a gentleman from the Apache Nation….thus the name…and brought to Liberty Wildlife for our care.

He suffered a concussion, but more seriously, he had badly broken wings…in fact we quickly realized that while his head would heal his wings wouldn’t….he would not be releasable.

It took him a little over two weeks of lying flat on his belly to decide if he wanted to make the big career change from top predator to top educator.  He chose well.  Over these many years he has taught thousands of people about the role of birds of prey, about their importance in the balance of nature, and all things biological.  But to us he taught patience, diligence, intensity and dignity….all in his undauntedly forgiving ways.

Recently we have begun to notice that his eyes are clouding over.  He appeared to be favoring one eye over the other.  For any of you who have had cataracts you know the feeling…..but for you a fairly simple surgery can make you all well again….not so for an eagle.

So now Apache is looking at another life/career change…..from Top Educator to Relaxed Retiree.  We are sure he will accept his daily eye drops with the same dignity that has allowed him to accept every change that life has hurled at him.  In fact, he has taken to doing a little walk about while his enclosure is being cleaned….walking out the door, down the hall of the catch cage, peering into adjacent cages….letting the other education birds know that he still “oversees” his realm despite the inconvenience of cloudy eyes.

He deserves and will receive the best we can give and do for him…..the equivalent of golf on the best links everyday of his remaining life.

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