RACINE — If you’re walking down the path along Lake Michigan at the Racine Zoo, you may hear a new, high pitched call coming from Racine Zoo’s newest resident.
A 3-year-old male bald eagle is the focus of a new exhibit at the zoo. There is a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new exhibit planed for Memorial Day, Monday, May 31, at 11 a.m.
But before then, the public can bid on a name for the new eagle during a silent auction from Friday to Thursday, May 21 to 27. Auction closed May 27 at 7 p.m.
The winner will be announced at the end of the auction closing. The name will be revealed at the May 31 ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The eagle was brought into the Southeastern Raptor Center in Auburn, Alabama, with wing and leg injuries. After hard work to rehabilitate the bird, it was decided that he could not be released to the wild due to his asymmetrical flight, preventing him from catching adequate prey independently.
The decision was made to house him in human care, and plans began for him to eventually move to the Racine Zoo.
Riders For Charity, a not for profit charity organization of motorcycle enthusiasts that benefit our community, was instrumental in providing support for enrichment enhancing spaces for our new eagle, training for staff and transportation.
A generous donation from the David A. Spaulding, “Skipper,” estate, made this exhibit possible.
“David’s love for the zoo’s animals and his love for our country makes this exhibit especially meaningful, and we could not be more thrilled to have an eagle back at the zoo,” said Beth Heidorn, Executive Director.
The new exhibit is just north of the zoo’s Andean bear yard, south of the Great Horned Owl exhibit.
Years of planning, research, coordination, and construction went into building the massive exhibit, which was designed to give the eagle plenty of room to fly from perch to perch, dipping into his own pond.
“Our facilities team absolutely knocked it out of the park with this exhibit,” said Aszya Summers, Curator of Animal Care and Conservation Education at the Racine Zoo. “I am so happy to welcome our eagle into his new home, and allow him to inspire people to protect birds like him in the wild.”
It will be another five years before the eagle has a fully bald head.
Bald eagles dropped to fewer than 500 nesting pairs in the 1960s due to wide use of chemical pesticides.
Thanks to new regulations and zoo-based breeding and reintroduction programs, there are now over 10,000 nesting pairs in the United States and bald eagles are no longer considered a threatened or endangered species, but are still a protected species by federal law to ensure their continued stability.
For a limited time, the zoo has exclusive eagle apparel available.
Youth and adult shirts and sweatshirts are available in multiple colors.
Funds raised by apparel sales will directly support the care of the eagle.
For more information on the eagle, naming auction, or apparel, visit racinezoo.org.