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 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.
With his young age, the eagle will not have a fully bald head until he reaches about eight years of age. The eagle was brought into the Southeastern Raptor Center in Auburn, AL 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 and just south of the Great Horned Owl exhibit. Years of planning, research, coordination, and construction went into the construction of the massive exhibit, designed to give the eagle plenty of room to explore and exhibit natural behaviors, from flying from perch to perch to 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.”
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.
The winner of the naming rights is Riders For Charity! Thank you to everyone who participated in the auction. All funds will directly support the care of our eagle. Stay tuned, the name will be announced at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Monday, May 31!
Join us! On Monday, May 31, Memorial Day, at 11 am there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new eagle exhibit for the family of David A. Spaulding, “Skipper,” to celebrate this Vietnam veteran and his contribution to this amazing exhibit and Riders For Charity, a not for profit charity organization of motorcycle enthusiasts that benefit our community, for being instrumental in providing support for enrichment enhancing spaces for our new eagle, training for staff, and transportation.
Thank you to those who came out for the eagle ribbon cutting ceremony! The eagle's name is officially...America!
Progress photos of the making of the new exhibit