Powell, OH – A Columbus Zoo icon, national symbol, and contributor to species survival died at the Columbus Zoo on Jan. 23, 2012. Barbara, a 29-year-old bald eagle, was found on the ground by animal care staff and immediately taken to the Zoo’s Animal Health Center. She was unresponsive with an irregular heart beat and radiographs showed an enlarged heart. She died during the veterinary team’s examination.
Barbara was hatched in the wild in 1982 and came to the Columbus Zoo in the fall of 1988 after reportedly attacking a Boy Scout on Catalina Island, California. Barbara and the Zoo’s former male eagle, George, raised 16 eaglets between 1992 and 2000.
From 1978 to 2000 the Columbus Zoo produced a total of 21 eaglets; 20 of them were released into the wild in Ohio, Tennessee, New York and Indiana. (The first eaglet went to the Detroit Zoo.)
Once a common sight in the United States, the bald eagle population declined due to habitat loss, hunting and the use of DDT; a pesticide that caused eagles to become sterile and also to lay brittle eggs. The bald eagle was nearly extirpated in the lower 48 states by the middle of the 20th century and the species was placed on the endangered species list in 1967. In 1972 the use of DDT in the United States was banned.
With regulatory safeguards in place and successful reintroduction of eagles hatched in zoos, the bald eagle population rebounded and the species was removed from the endangered species list in 2007. They continue to receive protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
Bald eagles can be found throughout the contiguous United States and Alaska and parts of Canada. They became our national symbol in 1782.
All bald eagles in the United States are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and permits to have eagles are primarily issued to public educational institutions to care for permanently injured individuals that cannot survive in the wild. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium still cares for Cheyenne, a seven-year-old female eagle with an injured wing, and has begun the search for another eagle in need of a home.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is home to more than 9,000 animals representing 675 species and provides more than $1 million annually to support over 70 conservation projects worldwide. A recreational and education destination that includes the 22-acre Zoombezi Bay water park and 18-hole Safari Golf Club, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium hosts more than two million visitors annually and was named the #1 Zoo in America by USA Travel Guide. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Columbus Zoo has earned Charity Navigator’s prestigious 4-star rating. For more information and to purchase advance Zoo admission tickets, visit www.columbuszoo.org.