Bald eagle undergoes surgery after accident

Posted at 9:48 PM, Aug 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-04 23:13:03-04

A bald eagle somehow got in contact with an electrical wire causing the eagle to actually go bald.

The eagle was badly injured some fearing for its life. Weeks after the bird slowly recovered and on Friday underwent surgery which lasted 2 hours and 10 minutes.

The doctors said the surgery went well despite doing a surgery they've never done on an eagle before in hopes that the nation's bird will be free again.

When the Raptor Recovery Program at Fontenelle Forest got the bird they were at a loss for answers luckily plastic surgeon Coleen Stice knew what to do.

“Surprisingly bird physiology turns out to be a lot like mammalian physiology so I feel pretty comfortable doing a full skin graft on this bone this is exactly what I would do if it was a human,” said Stice.

Stice along with Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium veterinarian Trenton Shrader took the eagle into surgery.

“What is unique about this eagle procedure is that it is in a unique location being on top of the head and a unique species,” said Shrader.

During surgery the doctors sanded off the surface of exposed bone and put in a skin graft taken from the bird's inner thigh.

“The skin just stuck immediately,” said Stice.

Then the doctors put gauze and stapled it in place and put a cover dressing on it hoping the skin graph doesn't move.

“Now we just keep our fingers crossed that he doesn't tear it loose,” said Stice.

And that’s key because if the skin graph moves the blood vessels would tear off so they are keeping the eagle in a secluded place, “Human actively is very disruptive and can be quite an anxiety-inducing experience for him so we set up a facility so he is not troubled be people coming in and out, we'll have cameras set up for people to monitor him 24 hours a day,” said Shrader.

When the eagle recovers he won’t be bald anymore he'll have a nice new hairdo.

“They wont be white and this is a bald eagle, so if the feathers grow back it will be brown, he'll look like he has a toupee,” said Stice.

The next 10-14 days are critical to the recovery of the eagle because that's how long it takes for the blood to go into the skin graph.

If the graph doesn't move doctors said the hope is to have the eagle be a free bird again in a month to 6-weeks.


3 News Now will get another update on this bald eagle later this month.