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Helping Eagles and Preserving Culture

ABQ BioPark Zoo partnership benefits rehabilitated eagles, helps Zuni Pueblo maintain cultural traditions

04/15/2016 - The ABQ BioPark is part of an ongoing partnership that helps the Zuni Pueblo continue important religious and cultural practices, while giving rehabilitated eagles a second chance.

The pueblo maintains a US Fish and Wildlife Service-Migratory Birds Permit Office (USFWS-MBPO) permitted eagle aviarythe first facility permitted by the USFSW-MBPO to keep live eagles for Indian religious purposes.
Birds must be examined by a certified avian veterinarian once a year as part of the permitting requirements and the ABQ BioPark has contributed medical expertise to the pueblo since 2000. In the process, the BioPark has developed a mutual trust and working relationship that respects the privacy of the pueblo.
"The eagles are beautiful, majestic birds and I am honored to be a part of this program that provides excellent long-term care for birds that otherwise would not be able to survive on their own," said Carol Bradford, ABQ BioPark staff veterinarian. "Golden and bald eagles can live 25-30 years or more and we are certainly glad that the Zuni aviary provides this long-term care."  
The aviary serves as a direct source for feathers, which are used for cultural and religious purposes. Non-releasable eagles come from wildlife rehabilitators across the United States, and the aviary offers a second chance home for eagles that have sustained various injuriessuch as wing fractures and eye injuries, that would make survival in the wild impossible. The pueblo currently has 14 golden eagles and 10 bald eagles. Each eagle has a name and their caretakers know each bird by name and personality. 
ABQ BioPark vet staff administered annual vet exams at the Pueblo on April 5. During the visit, vets examined each bird to identify any problems, determine overall condition, administer de-wormer and vaccinate for West Nile virus.
This year's examinations found the eagles to be in good general health. One bird will be treated for an infected foot. The BioPark will soon transfer two bald eagles to the Zuni aviary in order to allow construction for the facility's new penguin exhibit. 
The ABQ BioPark also offers veterinary care and assistance to the pueblo's aviary staff throughout the year, as needed.