Bald eagle education ambassador dies after 24 years with Raptor Center

Bald eagle education ambassador Maxime at the Huntington Bank Stadium. (Credit the University of Minnesota Raptor Center)  (Supplied)

The University of Minnesota Raptor Center announced their beloved education ambassador bald eagle Maxime died on Friday. 

The organization said Maxime, better known as Max, was euthanized due to progressive health issues. She was under medical management since 2019 and her annual exam showed her arthritis had worsened, which can be quite painful. Staff members controlled her pain for as long as possible before making the decision to euthanize her while she was surrounded by members of the clinic and Raptor Center.

"This loss is profound, and we will be healing for some time from this painful moment. Her calm temperament and readiness to work with our team to educate and inspire the public made her a truly special eagle," the Raptor Center said in a statement. 

Max joined the Raptor Center in 1999 after sustaining an injury to her left wing and suffering from lead toxicity. While she was mended back to health, Max stayed with the Raptor Center for 24 years due to permanent damage to her elbow. 

The decades she spent with the Raptor Center were memorable as she took on the new role of education ambassador. She participated in more than 6,000 education programs, attended hearings at the state legislature, appeared on national media, and participated in scientific meetings to show the impacts of ecosystem health issues. 

"As a core member of The Raptor Center family, her loss is being felt deeply within our team and in the community at large. She had an incredible impact on our mission, in the lives of so many near and far, and for our understanding of managing raptors in educational settings. She will be missed, but she leaves a strong legacy which will not soon be forgotten. RIP Maxime," the Raptor Center said in a statement on Facebook.