Liberty Toes

January 26, 2010 at 2:01 pm 2 comments

Liberty, our female bald eagle, has had some difficulty with her foot; specifically her toe (technically, her first digit which is also called a hallux).  Back in the fall, our animal keepers noticed that Liberty was closing her talons on her right foot and was sitting awkwardly on her perches in the exhibit.  Manager of Zoology, Debbie Rea, and the animal keepers captured the bird to take a closer look with the veterinarian and noticed a sore on the pad of her toe. 

Although the skin on the feet of eagles is pretty tough, occasionally large raptors scratch their feet as they move from branch to branch or even nick themselves with their talons.  Because eagles are heavy bodied birds and use their feet for grabbing food and resting in the trees, small abrasions can potentially turn into big problems if the wound doesn’t have an opportunity to heal.  Liberty is a rehabilitated bird that came to Maymont with an injury that doesn’t allow her to fly.  Consequently, perch diameter is important to captive eagles since they sit more often and that can put pressure on a wound. 

Fortunately, the sore on her foot was observed, and the animal care team took action.  Maymont veterinarian, Dr. Kelly Gottschalk, determined that the toe would need surgery and Liberty was taken to an avian specialist at the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro, Virginia.  Together, Dr. Dave McRuer and Dr. Gottschalk successfully operated on Liberty’s toe to remove some excess scar tissue and clean up the wound.  Liberty stayed at the Wildlife Center for more than a month to recover as their veterinary staff bandaged her foot almost every day. 

Meanwhile, the Maymont Habitats Team worked hard to find a variety of bird perches and padding that would help take some of the pressure off Liberty’s surgery site.  In addition, Leigh-Ann Horne, the Wildlife Center’s licensed veterinary technician, partnered with Maymont’s Habitats Team by offering a bandaging seminar to prepare for Liberty’s sustained care. 

Liberty is back at Maymont and making a steady recovery.  She receives bandage changes every four days now and recently has been allowed to go back on exhibit with our other bald eagle, Quincy.  The wonderful care of Liberty is a credit to the teamwork of highly skilled professionals who give 110% to ensure the animals receive the best treatment possible; so that all of our guests can enjoy the wonderful creatures at Maymont.

If you’d like to help care for Liberty or any of our other animals, visit our Adopt A Living Thing web page.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. chris  |  January 27, 2010 at 2:49 am

    i think i need you guys to take care of my cat, parker! think he can stay in the cage with Liberty?

    Reply
    • 2. Buz  |  January 27, 2010 at 2:27 pm

      Sorry Chris, no room at the inn for Parker. I have a feeling that Liberty and Quincy might object to kitties in their exhibit. Hope to see you in Richmond again soon!

      Reply

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Buz Bireline, Director of Habitats & the Nature Center at Maymont

Buz Bireline

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