Sparky & Leu arrive at Abilene Zoo
Abilene, TX- The Abilene Zoo is thrilled to announce the arrival of two rescued bald eagles; 15-month-old Sparky, and 16-month-old Leu.
The birds come to the Abilene Zoo after being rehabilitated at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland, Florida. Thanks to generous donors, a year-long process to renovate part of the zoo’s Elm Creek exhibit into the birds’ permanent home is complete, and now serves as the Keith Garner Bald Eagle Habitat, named in memory of Abilene Zoological Society board member Keith Garner.
EagleWatch, an organization whose main objective is to watch nesting activity and current population trends of eagles in Florida, was actively monitoring Sparky’s and Leu’s nests when it was able to identify a need for assistance for the birds, and notify the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey. Both eagles were rescued at approximately two months of age, evaluated, and deemed non-releasable by US Fish & Wildlife Service due to their inability to fly.
Sparky and Leu are adolescent eagles, approximately one years old; while they are fully grown, they won’t get their white heads until they are five to seven years old.
“We are thrilled that after an extensive process of renovation and federal permitting we are bringing the first bald eagles to the Abilene Zoo,” said Abilene Zoo Director Jesse Pottebaum. “We thought the upcoming Memorial Day weekend was the perfect time to introduce these majestic birds to the community, honoring those who have died in service to our country.”
The bald eagle is a conservation success story. In the mid-1900s bald eagles were in danger of extinction due to habitat destruction and degradation, as well as contamination of their food source due to the use of the insecticide, DDT. With the ban of DDT in 1972 and the Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940, our national symbol began its slow return. By 2007, the bald eagle had made such a successful recovery it was removed from the list of threatened and endangered species.
In 2021 two bald eagles were rescued and brought to Abilene Zoo’s Bird Rehabilitation Center; one was successfully released, and the other was deemed non-releasable and found a permanent home in Kansas where it will be an ambassador for its wild cousins.
“While a return to the wild is our goal, we also want the community to learn about these amazing birds as they join our community, and ensure they thrive for generations to come,” said Pottebaum.
To learn more or support the Bird Rehabilitation Center visit Bird Rehabilitation Center.