Thursday, September 26, 2013


It is with a heavy heart that we must inform you that one of our longtime residents, Myakka the Bald Eagle, has succumbed to a combination of old age and, we suspect, the debilitating effects of lead poisoning. 

In 1985 Myakka’s family nest was on the Myakka River in Florida.  His parents had three eggs in the nest.  Often in the wild when there are more than two chicks one will be pushed out of the nest by the larger siblings.  Therefore, Myakka’s egg was removed and hatched at the G.M. Sutton Avian Research Center in Bartlesville, Oklahoma as part of an effort to re-establish a wild population of Bald Eagles in Alabama.

After a successful release Myakka was injured in the wild by a gunshot.  He took three shotgun pellets--two to his left wing, which eventually healed completely.  At a rehab center in Minneapolis it was discovered that he had sustained permanent damage to one eye from another pellet, and because of that pellet’s position in Myakka’ head, it could not be removed.  In the wild this would have been his death sentence.  At the end of 1986, when his injuries had healed sufficiently he was transferred to the World Bird Sanctuary.

Even though he still carried the lead shot that caused his eye injury Myakka was a real trooper.  He integrated well into the routine of becoming an ambassador for his species, and over the years educated millions of people about the threats to his kind from human activities, and some of those activities’ thoughtlessness.

We believe that his demise was brought about in great part by the lead shot which he had carried since his injury.  Even though his injury had occurred many years ago, the lead was still in his system and we believe it finally had broken down enough to carry its poison to vital organs.  

Last week he began having trouble with balance and coordination, and then began to experience severe seizures—classic symptoms of lead poisoning.  When it became apparent that nothing we could do could help him it was decided to humanely euthanize him rather than let him suffer. 

Myakka will be sorely missed by one and all.


Anonymous said...

Memories will ease the pain. Sorry for the loss. Thank you for posting. Sending good thoughts and prayers for all the handlers and volunteers.

Cassidy Cooley said...

My heart goes out to the incredible WBS staff who have taken such care of this glorious bird. Myakka will be sorely missed...