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Sad Day at Grandfather Mountain, Isis Passes Away

Isis, Grandfather Mountain’s female bald eagle, was humanely euthanized June 27 after self-inflicting multiple abrasions and lacerations on her body due to stress behaviors. The decision was a difficult one for Grandfather Mountain habitat staff members but after a medical evaluation and consultation with raptor health specialists it was determined to be the most humane option. Photo by Skip Sickler

June 28, 2013. It is a sad day at Grandfather Mountain.  One of the Mountain’s new bald eagle additions, Isis, was humanely euthanized yesterday, June 27. 

She and a male bald eagle arrived in March and after an acclimation period were released into their new habitat.  As is the case with some birds, Isis was unable to properly adapt to life in captivity.  Despite efforts from the Grandfather Mountain Animal Habitat staff to close the habitat from the public for weeks and put up dark “privacy” sheets along the fence to help her cope, the Mountain’s veterinarian, the lead veterinarian at the Carolina Raptor Center as well as a US Fish and Wildlife representative recommended euthanasia as the only humane course of action for the ailing raptor.

Birds have a lot harder time adjusting to being in close proximity to humans than mammals and other creatures.  Isis, who was originally rehabilitated after suffering from lead poisoning and was blind in her left eye, never fully recovered.  Her neurotic state of mind resulted in repeated injuries from fence collisions.  In the last week, Grandfather’s habitat staff observed Isis becoming more and more stressed.

“Isis had significant wounds to her head, face and one wing,” said Lee Bolt, DVM of Sweeten Creek Animal and Bird Hospital in Asheville, N.C.  “We suspect that the lead poisoning had damaged her nervous system more than previously thought.”

Other options were dismissed before the difficult decision was made.  It is unfair and inhumane to constantly medicate an animal just for the sake of having it on display for people.  Relocating Isis wasn’t a viable alternative either.  Isis’ injury prevents her from being released into the wild and aside from rehab centers that only have the means to temporarily nurse the animals back to health before transferring them to permanent homes, virtually all eagles in captivity have to live in close proximity to humans at places like Grandfather Mountain.

Isis came to Grandfather March 22 along with another bald eagle named Griffin as the first two residents of the Mountain’s brand new eagle habitat.  Isis and Griffin were the subjects of a naming contest in which Tony Sweet’s name suggestion was selected for the female.  ‘Isis’ was a name inspired by ancient Egyptian folklore. 

Griffin is still doing well at Grandfather Mountain.  Habitat Staff members have begun the task of searching for another rehabilitated female bald eagle to join Griffin in his new habitat.

It is always a difficult decision to part with a beautiful animal like Isis.  The Mountain’s staff is deeply saddened by this unfortunate event, but know that yesterday’s decision was the best option for Isis’ well-being. 

The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation established to preserve Grandfather Mountain, operate the nature park sustainably in the public interest, provide an exceptional experience for guests, and inspire them to be good stewards of the earth’s resources.  For more information, visit www.grandfather.com or call 800-468-7325.