El Paso Zoo releases golden eagle into the wild

Free bird!

Just 11 days after being recognized by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the El Paso Zoo is living up to the prestigious recognition.

On Monday, the El Paso Zoo and Gila Wildlife Rescue released a golden eagle into the Sierra Blanca area of west Texas. The eagle, appropriately named Sierra, had been in the care of the El Paso Zoo since January after she was found with a broken bone in her wing. Sierra had also been suffering from muscle weakness and dehydration.

The veterinary staff cared for Sierra until she could be moved to the Gila Wildlife Rescue in Silver City, New Mexico, for further rehabilitation and flight preparation.

Dr. Vikki Milne, a veterinarian at the El Paso Zoo, said that the fracture in the eagle’s wing did not require surgery, and that it healed through a long process of bandaging, rest, supportive care and physical therapy.

“When the fracture healed in February, we sent her to (Silver City.) They worked with Sierra in large flight cages, used for therapy, where birds can get their strength up and get back into flying condition,” Milne said.

The El Paso Zoo and Gila Wildlife Rescue have been working together since 2014 to provide rehabilitation for large birds in the area. According to the El Paso Zoo, the combination of its avian veterinary expertise and the flight rehabilitation in Silver City have worked extremely well.

“This event is a culmination of the hard work this partnership does,” said Gila Wildlife Rescue director, Dennis Miller.

“Thank you to the El Paso Zoo for all the work they do and their support of wildlife rehab.”

Dr. Milne said that the El Paso Zoo gets 150-200 injured or sick large birds each year. Some of the birds it treats include hawks, owls, vultures, and eagles. Last year, she said, about 90 of the birds that were treated at the El Paso Zoo were able to be released.

The teamwork between the El Paso Zoo and the Gila Wildlife Rescue shows that both organizations are committed to animal care.

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