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Back You are here: Home Features Events and Features Fort Fisher Aquarium Eagle Lands at Fort Fisher Aquarium

Eagle Lands at Fort Fisher Aquarium

A flightless, juvenile bald eagle now lives at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

Kure Beach, N.C. — Perched on a log, sporting a set of powerful talons and a steely gaze, a new resident of the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher strikes the impressive pose of a survivor. A roadside rescue and the Aquarium’s desire to share a powerful, conservation story provided the bald eagle a second chance. In 2013, a juvenile bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was found in western Wisconsin with an injured wing, unable to fly. Veterinarians determined the damaged wing was previously broken and healed poorly in the wild. Though efforts were made, the wing could not be repaired. A permanent home was needed. The eagle would not survive in the wild.
Around the same time, the Aquarium decided to make changes to its fresh water conservatory. “Moving Luna, the albino alligator, to live with her natural colored cousins in a larger habitat created an opportunity. Our staff researched, planned and invested in the idea of sharing the important conservation story of eagles and introducing our guests to these majestic animals,” said Aquarium Director Peggy Sloan. However, finding the right match for both raptor and the Aquarium took time. Strict federal regulations and permitting requirements surround the protected species and took many months to secure. Finally, in February, the juvenile bald eagle traveled from Wisconsin to his new home in North Carolina.
Upon arrival, staff gradually introduced the bird, who does not yet have a name, to his new surroundings. They carefully monitored the animal’s diet, behavior and health. They put finishing touches on his specially-designed habitat complete with perches of varied heights, soft moss and a water feature. “The introduction of the eagle to the public is based on his adaptation to his surroundings,” said Aquarium Curator Hap Fatzinger. “His long-term health and well-being are our primary concern.” Guests may now meet the Aquarium’s newest animal ambassador in the fresh water conservatory. Some guests are surprised by the bird’s appearance. It will take several years for the young animal to grow the characteristic white head feathers and yellow beak of mature bald eagles. For now, he sports a mottled array of white and brown feathers.
Hunting, habitat loss and the once widely-used pesticide DDT depleted the bald eagle population to near extinction in the mid-20th century. Populations have since recovered, supported by the Environmental Protection Agency ban of DDT in the 1970s and large-scale protection of nesting places.
Eagles were removed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in 2007, a conservation success seen in few animal species.
The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher is located just south of Kure Beach, a short drive from Wilmington, on U.S. 421. The site is less than a mile from the Fort Fisher ferry terminal. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission:$10.95 ages 13-61; $9.95 62+ and military; $8.95 ages 3-12. Free admission for: children 2 and younger, registered groups of N.C. school children, and N.C. Aquarium Society members. General information: http://www.ncaquariums.com/fort-fisher