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Female Wedge-tail Eagle with Trainer Erin

A female Wedge-tailed Eagle has learned to fly in the care of Taronga Zoo staff 18 months after it normally would have taken wing in the wild.

Found as an emaciated fledgling, the eagle was initially looked after at a raptor rehabilitation centre on the NSW Central Coast, north of Sydney.

Abnormal feather development meant the young eagle couldn’t fly when it fledged for the first time but in the care of Bird Trainers at Taronga Zoo the bird grew normal feathers giving her the chance to take wing.

Taronga Free Flight Bird Show Trainer, Erin Stone said: “Once we saw that she had developed her feathers correctly we worked closely to build her trust and get her used to being on a glove and comfortable around us.”

“We gave her the opportunity to jump and glide between two platforms about five metres apart at the bird show amphitheatre, which she managed easily and that’s when we thought we would take her to the concert lawns inside Taronga Zoo, but  it wasn’t long before we needed more space and started visiting parks and ovals around the area.”

“Today we were at Clifton Gardens on Sydney’s North Shore and were flying her about 80 metres. She completed six flights between another trainer Brendan and me which is a fantastic result.”

“It’s all about being able to provide her with as many different environments and experiences as possible and today was no exception, the strong wind gusts coming off the harbour was just another thing she would have had to deal and compensate for when flying back and forth.”

In what has been a considerably long process, the team at Taronga Zoo are delighted with the progress the as yet unnamed Eagle is making and hope may eventually join the show.

The QBE Free Flight bird show is on twice a day at Taronga Zoo and aims to inspire  visitors about the remarkable world of Australian and exotic birds while demonstrating their remarkable adaptations and abilities. 

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