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Toby Zerna The Daily Telegraph
Gina learns to soar

We’re very excited to announce that Gina, our female Wedge-tailed Eagle, is now regularly flying in our 12PM Bird Show. It has been a long journey for Gina, but persistence has paid off, and she is going from strength to strength.

 Gina was a wild bird brought to Taronga Zoo as she needed full-time care. Wildlife rehabilitators had tried to release her multiple times, but Gina was unable to support herself in flight over long distances, and very quickly needed human aid. This meant Gina was unable to hunt,  avoid threats, and could not survive on her own. When checked by vets it was determined that Gina was suffering from muscle myopathy, or “weak muscles”.

 To assist Gina, Taronga’s free-flight team became involved and started a physical training program aimed at strengthening her flight muscles. It is not unusual for it to take up to a year to have any bird free-flying confidently, but due to Gina’s condition it took much longer, almost two years. This involved the team working at Gina’s pace, and giving her opportunities to fly daily, gradually increasing the distances and difficulty of the flights. On many occasions these flights were done at parks surrounding the zoo, meaning locals had the opportunity to watch Gina’s star rise.

 Two months ago Gina was introduced to our free-flight presentation. When free-flying she is the perfect ambassador for her species. These birds are Australia’s largest bird of prey, with wingspans up to 2.2m. Generally the females are bigger than the boys, so that makes her all the more impressive. Wedge-tails play a vital role in nature. Part of their diet involves them feeding on carrion, so in doing this, they help stop the spread of disease.

 The best thing about Gina living at Taronga with the free-flight team is that we can give her the opportunity to display normal, wild behaviour, in an environment that is safe for her. She truly is inspiring, so if you have the chance I’d strongly recommend you come by and watch her soar.

The Bird Presentation is on daily at 12pm and 3pm. 

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