News from the
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Illinois
3225 Vet. Med. Basic Sciences Bldg.
2001 S. Lincoln Ave.
Urbana, IL 61802
July 9, 2008
Illinois Surgeon to Help Bald Eagle Chick in VirginiaUPDATE July 14: The four-phase surgery on the eagle's beak took nearly three hours to complete on July 12. Dr. Bennett built an acrylic ramp to guide the beak's growth, so the eagle can eat on its own in the wild.
"I'm very happy with what we were able to do," Dr. Bennett told a Virginia news reporter. "The beak is pointing straight, and everything looks pretty happy now. We hope he'll be able to eat on his own, and he can go interact with other eagles and get socialized with other eagles."
Dr. Bennett said recovery could take six months to a year. The Wildlife Center will continue to care for the eagle.
Dr. R. Avery Bennett, professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois, will travel to Waynesboro, Va., to lead a team of surgeons in repairing and restoring the beak of a young bald eagle at the Wildlife Center of Virginia.
The eagle hatched at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in late April. On May 22 it was transferred to the Wildlife Center with a golf-ball-sized mass on the left side of its beak. A biopsy confirmed that the eagle had a severe case of avian pox. While the mass has shrunk as a result of treatment, it has caused a malformation of the eaglet's developing beak.
In a surgery scheduled for Saturday, July 12, at the Wildlife Center, Dr. Bennett will oversee the removal of the remaining pox lesion and the attempt to resolve the curvature caused in the eaglet's beak. Surgically manipulating beak growth is rare in raptor medicine, but Dr. Bennett is known internationally as the "go-to guy" for complicated surgical cases in birds and exotic animals.
"This is a very challenging case," said Ed Clark, president and co-founder of the Wildlife Center. "In charting the best course of action, we consulted the top avian experts nationwide and, given the complexity of the case, all said that Dr. Bennett would be the most qualified and experienced avian surgeon to bring in. We're delighted that he is willing to lend his skilled hands."
The eagle has gained a worldwide following through its on-line appearances on "Eagle Cam."
The likelihood of a full recovery will not be known until surgeons can determine how much damage has been done to the underlying bone.
Information about the treatment provided to the eaglet during its stay at the Wildlife Center, including a log of medical updates, is available on the Wildlife Center's Web site: www.wildlifecenter.org/news/norfolk_botanical_garden_eagle/.