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Eagles find new hangout at Cape zoo
By BRIAN IANIERI Staff Writer, 609-463-6713
Published: Wednesday, April 09, 2008

MIDDLE TOWNSHIP - Two bald eagles, which had been wounded by shotguns and rehabilitated at a Virginia animal hospital, are now calling the Cape May County Zoo home.

The county's Zoological Society raised about $25,000 for a new exhibit, the zoo's first showcasing of the once-endangered national bird, said Zoological Society Executive Director Bill MacQueen.

The nonprofit society works in conjunction with the county zoo

The zoo acquired the male and female bald eagles from the Wildlife Center of Virginia. The birds were driven from the center to the zoo Monday night.

Associate zoo veterinarian Alexander Ernst said both eagles had been shot in the wild, with damage to their wings and eyes.

Although they can fly again, Ernst said, the birds cannot be released in the wild.

Because their retinas were damaged when they were shot, they wouldn't be able to focus on their prey, he said.

On Tuesday, the eagles were getting accustomed to their surroundings at the county zoo.

The male eagle eyed up two pairs of curious peacocks on the other side of the chain-link cage.

It should take the eagles a short time to become acclimated to having a group of people around them, Ernst said.

From their experiences in the wild and in the Virginia animal hospital, the eagles saw few crowds.

They are in an 80-foot-long cage in the zoo, with a panorama picture of a local marsh in the background.

The exhibit, MacQueen said, kicks off the 30th anniversary of the zoo this year.

Officials expect a grand opening for the exhibit in May.

MacQueen said the exhibit reflects the success of the bald eagle, which was removed from the federal endangered species list last year after their population rebounded from near extinction in the lower 48 states.

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