Eagle Dies at National Zoo

Bald eagle euthanized after medical complications

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One of the National Zoo’s bald eagles has passed away after medical complications.

Zoo officials said they found Sam, an elderly female eagle, lying in her exhibit a couple days before New Year’s Eve. She was transported to the zoo’s veterinary hospital for treatment, but her condition worsened and vets had to euthanize her.

Sam went to the zoo in 2003. She was more than 30 years old (in the wild, most bald eagles live into their late teens and early 20s).

Prior to living at the Smithsonian National Zoo, Sam was part of the American Eagle Foundation in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Between 1990 and 1992, she was a part of a traveling education program.

The zoo said Sam was originally located in Alaska with a gunshot wound in 1986. Her injury was too severe for her to be released back into the wild.

The zoo is still home to one other bald eagle, and while they are investigating options of adding another bird, there are no immediate plans. Both eagles had been off-exhibit recently because of ongoing construction at the zoo's seal and sea lion exhibit.

Bald eagles were once on the federal list for threatened and endangered species, but their population in the wild is now thriving.

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