BATON ROUGE, LA (FOX44) — The irony that a symbol of America went missing the day before the nation’s birthday does not escape officials at the Baton Rouge Zoo.
“That point has certainly not been lost on anyone,” Kaki Heiligenthal, Director of Marketing at the Zoo, said. “We have not found him yet, but we have gotten plenty of calls.”
The injured Bald Eagle escaped during the early morning on Wednesday, July 3. The 6-year-old eagle became spooked during routine maintenance and managed to force its way through the mesh enclosure. Due to a past injury, officials want to find him as quickly as possible.
“We got him a little over a year ago. It was found by a wildlife rehabilitation person with a government agency,” Heiligenthal explained. “It had broken bones and it was determined that it needed to be placed into a permanent home because it could not return to the wild.”
Eagles can live up to 50 years, so this broken bird is barely a teenager.
“Given that he’s pretty young and his limited flight ability, we want to make sure he’s returned as quickly as possible,” she added.
The community has set its eyes to the sky to find the missing symbol of American freedom.
“We’ve had roughly 30 calls for eagle sighting since yesterday,” Heiligenthal noted. “The ones that have been really helpful are the ones around the Greenwood Park-area.”
That’s because zoo officials believe the eagle will not stray far from home, given its injury.
“Eagles really enjoy being up high, so chances are If someone sees him he will be at the top of a tree or perch,” she said.
But if you do happen to spot a grounded eagle, you should stay away and call for help.
“The best idea is to give us a call while keeping him in sight so we can get our keepers, who are trained to handle him, out there,” she said. “Otherwise, if they try to approach him, or grab him, he could become defensive.”
The zoo is open for the Fourth of July, minus one eagle, and hopes to have its missing member home in time for the big weekend celebration.
“Saturday we have our Red, White and Zoo celebration and that consists of some shows in the amphitheater and usual events throughout the day,” Heiligenthal said. “We’ll have a scavenger hunt and people will have the chance to find different red, white and blue animals throughout the zoo.”
The Baton Rouge Zoo is open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. If you spot the missing eagle, call (225) 775-3877.