TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A bald eagle that received international attention last year that was found in critical condition with a severely broken right wing recently had surgery that eliminated any change of her being released back in to the wild.
According to Zoo Miami, “Rita” and her mate “Ron” were featured on a live nest camera in conjunction with the Wildlife Rescue of Dade County.
Rita arrived to Zoo Miami in late November after being found and initially taken to Wildlife Rescue of Dade County by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Due to the severity of her wounds, she was taken to Zoo Miami where the Animal Health Team worked to save her life.
Once Rita stabilized, the team focused on saving as much of the broken wing as possible. The injury was so severe, bone was exposed and Rita suffered significant blood and tissue loss, according to the zoo.
Zoo Miami said initial indications were that a total amputation of the wing would be necessary, but the team tried a series of treatments that included laser therapy, acupuncture, physical therapy, medications and more to try and save as much of the wing as possible.
Rita showed signs of improvement, but the zoo said she recently started to show signs of infection and was progressively getting worse.
The decision was made to amputate the latter part of the right wing, just beyond the “wrist” to stop the infection from spreading and endangering Rita’s life.
Zoo Miami said Rita will go through an intensive recovery period at their location until she is taken to Wildlife Rescue of Dade County for her rehabilitation.
She will ultimately be placed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife in a facility where she will remain under human care for the rest of her life.
As per an agree with Native American tribes, she will first be offered to tribes that maintain aviaries so that naturally molted feathers can be utilized for tribal ceremonies, according to the zoo.
If there are no requests, Rita will be placed in an educational facility where she can serve an animal ambassador.
Though bald eagles usually mate for life, if one dies or is permanently separated, the other will often find another mate, according to Zoo Miami.
The zoo said “Ron,” Rita’s mate, has already been seen with more than one new female at the nest site.