WABASHA, Minn. — The National Eagle Center in Wabasha is mourning the loss of Donald, a male golden eagle that died March 16. Donald had been at the Center since 2008. His exact age was unknown. Life expectancy for adult eagles in the wild is about 20-25 years while eagles in human care with a controlled environment, nutrient rich diet, and veterinary care can live to be 40 years old or older.
Donald was struck by a car in California as an adult, was treated at the California Raptor Center and came to the National Eagle Center in 2008 no longer able to fly or survive in the wild.
Avian care staff recently observed Donald having trouble balancing, changing perches and eating his food. It was suspected that some of these changes might be the result of a stroke in recent weeks. At a veterinary visit to The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota it was learned that he had lost feeling in some of his toes which makes it difficult for eagles to survive.
“Donald lived two entire lives: one as a wild golden and the second, with all of us, as an indispensable teacher and inspiration to anyone lucky enough to have met him,” said Tiffany Ploehn, avian care manager at the Center. “It was our honor to make sure he received the best care possible. Our visitors had a special connection to him as did our entire staff. He will be greatly missed.”
Golden eagles are found worldwide. In North America, they are primarily found in the western states. Golden eagles do not breed in Minnesota or Wisconsin, but they are regular winter residents of the Driftless Area, the bluff lands of southeast Minnesota, western Wisconsin and northeast Iowa.
“It was amazing to have Donald as a living golden eagle ambassador side by side with our bald eagle ambassadors to share and showcase the differences between them,” said Scott Mehus, education director at the Center.
For more information about the National Eagle Center visit www.nationaleaglecenter.org.