MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis Zoo successfully rehabilitated and released a bald eagle into Lauderdale County.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Officer Tim Ward found an injured bald eagle laying on some railroad tracks on March 9 near Ripley, Tennessee.
Ward got the bird into a crate and took him to Memphis Zoo for medical treatment.
"He was in bad shape when I found him," Ward said. "I knew the first few days were the most critical. So after I dropped him off, I kept checking in with the Memphis Zoo team for updates."
Memphis Zoo's Senior Veterinarian Dr. Felicia Knightly examined the bird and determined it had a blockage in its throat.
Knightly was able to remove the blockage. Following a week of rehabilitation, the bird resumed eating a normal diet.
On May 3, Memphis Zoo officials released the bird back into the wild.
"Successfully treating, and ultimately releasing a bald eagle back into the wild is another rewarding way that conservation plays a role in our work," Knightly said. "Partnering with the TWRA on this successful recovery has allowed Memphis Zoo to do what we do best – help animals thrive. To see one of our nation's symbols soar back into the sky today gave me great pride in this team effort."
This sort of rehabilitation is not new for Memphis Zoo. The zoo rehabilitates around three bald eagles every year. Each one is then released back into the wild around the same location it was found.
Bald eagles, as a species, are a conservation success story, and have made a comeback over the last few decades. In 1963, only 417 known breeding pairs of bald eagles were known in the lower 48 states. In 1967, the eagle was declared an endangered species. In 2007, bald eagles were removed from the Endangered Species List due to ongoing conservation work. As of today, there are 200 active nests in Tennessee.