Species: Aquila chrysaetos, Golden Eagle • 1984-2017 • Gender: Female • Disability: Human Imprint
‘Victory’ hatched in the wild in April, 1984 in Death Valley, CA. She fell out of her nest as an eaglet and was found on the ground by a falconer. She was taken to the Los Angeles Zoo to be raised until she was transferred to the Weeki Wachee Springs attraction in Florida. Because she experienced too much human contact at such a young age, ‘Victory’ became human imprinted.
In 1999, Weeki Wachees’ bird program closed. Needing a new home, Victory was transferred to AEF to reunite with two of her former handlers from Florida.‘Victory’ was a big girl—definitely one of the biggest at the AEF, weighing over 10 pounds with a wingspan of 7 feet.
Sadly, Victory passed away on June 15, 2017. Her primary caregiver, Karen Wilber, has written this tribute:
“I remember when Victory first came to the American Eagle Foundation. She was so beautiful. Victory was the largest Golden Eagle I had ever seen or worked with. When she joined the other ambassadors at our Wings of America show at Dollywood, she was quite impressive. When I would go in to pick her up, she would gently and slowly pick up one foot at a time and gently place it on my glove. And when we would enter the stage together, a gasp of awe would go out across the audience.
Sometimes she would be quite comical during her part in the show by mouthing my words as I talked. She would open her mouth and move her head as if she were saying the words. At the end of her part, I would raise this magnificent creature above my head, and she would spread her massive wings. She received great applauses.
I worked many years at the AEF, and had hurt my back and shoulder, which made it difficult for a time to lift the larger birds. As I healed, I worked my way back up to the larger birds. One week before we lost our Victory, I was able to lift her again. She stepped up just like she had in the past. It was such a great feeling to be able to be close to her again. I carried her out to our weathering yeard to get some sunshine, not knowing this would be the last time I would feel the incredible strength of this bird on my arm.
The morning she left the Eagle Foundation to be treated for a medical issue, I made it in time to see her as she was driven off in one of our vans. I talked to her and told her I loved her. The day she left us, the pain was unbearable. There were many tears from the staff at AEF, not just mine. We all love her. May she fly free again.”
Assistant Avian Operations Coordinator
ABOUT GOLDEN EAGLES
The Golden Eagle gets its name from the beautiful golden colored feathers found on the back of its head and neck. They are the most common type of eagle found on every continent in the northern hemisphere. A strong and powerful flyer, they delight in soaring through gale force winds and have been known to climb thermal updrafts up to four miles high.
They’re cunning, intelligent and bold—diving in from the sun to blind their prey and using stealth-like tactics to cut off its means of escape. Golden Eagles are fierce and strong hunters. They have an unbelievable 1200 pounds of crushing power per square inch in each foot!