COURT HOUSE – As part of the continued efforts to update animal habitats and exceed all current animal care standards, the Cape May County Zoo is excited to announce the reopening of the bald eagle exhibit.
According to a release, the habitat has been expanded and redesigned to mimic a flight pen. The new exhibit is 80 feet long and 20 feet high and will allow the eagle space to stretch his wings and take flight.
Freeholder E. Marie Hayes, liaison to the Cape May County Parks and Zoo, stated, “The eagle exhibit has always been a popular attraction at the zoo and attracts many visitors who marvel at their majestic beauty and size. The new habitat is a welcome upgrade to the zoo and exceed all standards set for animal care.”
Associate Veterinarian Dr. Alex Ernst explained, “The county’s bald eagle has been deemed non-releasable by the Wildlife Center of Virginia, but he can still exercise by taking flight in his new habitat.” Non-releasable birds have permanent physical disabilities and are not able to care for themselves in the wild.
“I encourage everyone to come out and see the new habitat and our resident bald eagle, Foles, who came to us in fall 2017. He had a tough start in life, people didn’t think he would make it, but he had resiliency, and he was a fighter, reminiscent of another eagle we know”, added Hayes.
The average lifespan of a bald eagle in the wild is approximately 20 years, with 28 being the oldest on record. In captivity, the average lifespan is around 40, with one individual, in upstate New York, living to be 50 years old.
The bald eagle was first protected in the U.S. and Canada by the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty, by 1940 the protection expanded the whole North American continent, and they had received their own protection act (The Bald Eagle Protection Act). This protected them from both commercial and private trapping and hunting. Despite the efforts, by 1962 they were placed on the endangered species list.
In 1972, the most significant step towards the survival of these birds was taken when the ban of DDT (a pesticide) was placed. It was discovered that the chemical affected the calcium produced by the adult birds creating brittle eggs. The eggs were not able to withstand the weight of the adult birds and crushed or cracked. Today, they have been removed off the endangered species list and are still on a steady increase in population.
The bald eagle habitat is located adjacent to the World of Birds aviary and is viewable along the one-way route through the zoo.
The Cape May County Park and Zoo is free and open daily. The park is open from 7 a.m. until dusk, the zoo is open from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Masks are required for everyone over the age of 2, and social distancing protocols are enforced. Visitors are required to follow the directional signage in the zoo.
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