For more than four decades, a bald eagle known as Mrs. B lived at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo, until her passing on Monday, March 20.
According to a statement issued Monday, visitors and any staff who cared for her can take solace in knowing that she was provided an extremely long and enriched life, as she was one of the oldest, if not the oldest, bald eagle. She lived here at the zoo for 44 years and it is believed she was an adult when she arrived, which would likely make her at least 49 years old.
Mrs. B came to the zoo through the Raptor Rehabilitation Program in 1979. She had an injury to her left foot that made it difficult for her to be able to hunt properly, so she was given a permanent home at the zoo.
Over the years, Mrs. B educated thousands of visitors about bald eagles. With that in mind, it would be fitting if Mrs. B could become a taxidermy bird mount and have a final perch here at the zoo’s Raptor Center. Even a small display with a photo and a few feathers might be nice. However, that may not be possible. Per federal regulations, she is headed to the National Eagle Repository.
The repository’s stated main purpose is to “receive, evaluate, store and distribute dead golden and bald eagles, parts and feathers to Native Americans and Alaska natives who are enrolled members of federally recognized tribes throughout the United States. Also, it is to develop and provide educational programs regarding wildlife trade, wildlife laws, raptors and the Native American eagle feather program.”
We believe that bringing Mrs. B to the Raptor Center could serve an educational purpose that would fit the guidelines. Perhaps this would be a good research project for some social studies class. The Great Bend Tribune sent an inquiry via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, which we are told is the fastest way to contact the Repository staff. It could be some time before there is a response.
From what we read on the Repository website, it may be impossible for someone who is not a Native American to make this request. But the Repository serves a valuable purpose. Because Native Americans can receive these items which are important for their religious purposes, they do not need to harvest live eagles and endanger the species.
So, whether Mrs. B returns to the Raptor Center or not, she will continue to serve a purpose and the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo will continue to educate visitors. Displays already in place at the zoo’s Raptor Center and nearby at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center already provide some excellent information.