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RACINE, WI – If you’re walking down the path along Lake Michigan near the Racine Zoo, you may hear a new, high-pitched call coming from Racine Zoo’s newest resident — a three-year-old male bald eagle! Over a year of planning and construction, the Racine Zoo is excited to unveil the new exhibit and animal to the public.
The young eagle will not have a fully bald head until he reaches about eight years old. He was brought into the Southeastern Raptor Center in Auburn, AL, with wing and leg injuries. They then put in a lot of hard work to rehabilitate the bird. However, his asymmetrical flight prevents him from catching adequate prey independently. So, a decision was made to house him in human care. Then plans began for him to move to the Racine Zoo eventually.
Riders For Charity was instrumental in providing support for enrichment enhancing spaces for the new bald eagle, training for staff, and transportation. Further, Riders for Charity is a non-profit charity organization of motorcycle enthusiasts that benefit our community.
Further, 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.
More about the exhibit
The new bald eagle exhibit is just north of the Zoo’s Andean bear yard and just south of the Great Horned Owl exhibit. Years of planning, research, coordination, and construction went into the development of the massive exhibition. The design of the exhibit gives the eagle plenty of room to explore and perform natural behaviors, including the ability to fly from perch to perch and dip into a 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.”
Bald eagles dropped to fewer than 500 nesting pairs in the 1960s due to the wide use of chemical pesticides. Thanks to new regulations, zoo-based breeding, and reintroduction programs, there are now over 10,000 nesting pairs in the United States. So, bald eagles are no longer considered a threatened or endangered species. Although, they are still a protected species by federal law to ensure their continued stability.
On Monday, May 31, Memorial Day, at 11 a.m., there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new eagle exhibit for the family of David A. Spaulding, “Skipper.” Which will honor this Vietnam veteran and his contribution to this amazing exhibit.
Silent Auction to name the bald eagle
While things are going smoothly for the Racine Zoo’s newest addition, there is one thing missing—a name! Bid on naming the eagle in an online silent auction. The auction will be open from Friday, May 21, 2021, through Thursday, May 27, 2021, at 7 pm CST. The silent auction winner will be announced at the end of the auction closing. The Racine Zoo will reveal the name at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Exclusive bald eagle apparel is also available for a limited time. 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.
About the Racine Zoo
Nestled along the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, the Racine Zoo is open year-round. Temporary hours: 10am – 4pm, last admission at 3:30pm. Admission rates are: members and children two and younger: free, children three years to 15 years: $8, seniors: $9, and adults: $10. For more information on Racine Zoo’s programs and events, visit racinezoo.org, call 262-636-9189 and find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.