Bald eagle missing from Thunder Bay zoo 'probably won't survive'

Officials with the city of Thunder Bay, Ont., are concerned about the health of two bald eagles, after one disappeared when the birds' enclosure at Chippewa Park Wildlife Exhibit was vandalized.

Mate 'constantly crying' after other bird escapes vandalized cage, says parks manager

A bald eagle (not pictured) that was released from the wildlife exhibit at Chippewa Park in Thunder Bay, Ont., will likely die unless it returns, says city parks management. (Lorne Kelly)

Officials with the City of Thunder Bay are concerned about the health of two bald eagles, after one disappeared from the birds' enclosure at the Chippewa Park Wildlife Exhibit in the northwestern Ontario city.

Staff arriving at work on Jan. 19 noticed the eagle's enclosure had been vandalized, Gordon John, the city's acting parks manager, told CBC News on Monday. 

Eagles mate for life, he said, noting that the behaviour of the remaining bird suggests it is anxious for its partner to return.

John said they don't know yet whether it was the male or female that escaped.

"Its mate, who has been there all the time, it's constantly crying, trying to look for her mate, or him," he said.

City staff says the remaining eagle has been "constantly crying" since its mate escaped due to what city officials are calling vandalism. (Gordon John)

John said the perpetrators broke the lock off, and, using a ladder, made a hole in the chain-link fencing. He said nothing was stolen, and the lengths to which the intruders went suggested a rescue mission.

"They spent some time in there and it was very deliberate," he said.

Those efforts have done more harm than good, he added.

"This is a sad day that somebody thinks they're doing something good but they've written a death certificate.

"This bird probably won't survive," he said.
It will probably land on the ground and then it's prey to coyotes or wolves...- Gordon John, acting parks manager

The missing bald eagle, which was raised in captivity and does not have strong hunting or flying skills, is not likely to be able to fend for itself in the wild.

"It's not used to flying long distances so it will get very tired and when it is tired, it will probably land on the ground and then it's prey to coyotes or wolves or any other animal that's out there," John said.

It's possible the eagle may be spotted, walking on the ground, in the area around Chippewa Park, said John. However, the bird's sharp talons and beak mean it is still dangerous to approach, especially if it is stressed.

Anyone seeing the bird should call the city's 24-hour dispatch line at 807-625-2195 and crews will attempt to recapture the eagle, said John.

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