WAYNESBORO -- It's a happy birthday today for Buddy, the eagle born two years ago at Norfolk Botanical Garden and cared for at The Wildlife Center of Virginia.
Buddy is his official name, now that he's a permanent resident of the Center in Waynesboro.
He arrived there in May 2008 for treatment of Avian Pox on his beak.
With the decision to keep Buddy, the Center is planning a new, permanent enclosure and it could include a web-cam.
The name Buddy was chosen to acknowledge the support of the Norfolk Eagles Support Team International, the informal legion of fans who have followed the eagle on WVEC.com's Eagle Cam from his birth to his rehabilitation in Waynesboro.
Buddy has been training since February to become an education animal, joining other non-releasable education animals like hawks, owls, snakes, turtles, and opossums.
"The goal is to train Buddy to sit calmly on a handler’s gloved hand, so that he can be taken to programs and presentations off-site. The training process often takes many months of hard work – for both the eagle and the handlers," said Randy Huwa with The Wildlife Center of Virginia.
"It remains to be seen if Buddy has the temperament necessary to make it ‘on the road,’" President and Center Co-Founder Ed Clark stated. "He has already proven to be a great ambassador for wildlife and has helped thousands of individuals gain a new appreciation for Bald Eagles and the work of the Wildlife Center of Virginia."
While his new enclosure is being built, Buddy remains housed between two Wildlife Center "veterans" – Junior, a Golden Eagle who has been at the Center since 1985, and Scarlette, a Red-tailed Hawk brought to the Center as a patient in 1989.