Bald eagle treated at U of M Raptor Center finds new home at zoo

Freedom the bald eagle was nursed back to health at the University of Minnesota Raptor Center. Now, he's headed to a zoo in New Jersey.

A bald eagle treated at the University of Minnesota Raptor Center is on his way to a new home at a New Jersey zoo.

The Raptor Center in St. Paul had been home to Freedom since 2016 and he was part of their education program. However, he really didn’t like it, like fellow bald eagle Maxime does.

"See how her wings are nice and tucked in," said Mike Billington of the University of Minnesota Raptor Center. "The feathers on her head are poofed out a little bit. That’s all comfort behavior."

Freedom was also always trying to take off.

"His natural inclination was for him to try to leave the glove. We call that 'abate' where they try to fly away," said Billington.

Raptor Center enrichment is usually part of an eagle’s happiness, unless it’s not. Freedom just wanted to chill in his space, perch and look pretty. The Raptor Center, though, is not a zoo, so the enclosures just aren’t that big.

"We got put in touch with the Turtle Back Zoo, who has a brand new bald eagle exhibit that he can go and fly and stretch his wings in," said Victoria Hall, the director of the Raptor Center.

Understandably, the departure is tough for Raptor Center employees, who nursed him back to health and cared for him when he couldn’t return to the wild because of some permanent leg injuries.

"It’s incredibly bittersweet incredibly bittersweet," said Hall. "He is beloved here at the Raptor Center and by our staff and our volunteers and our community. But everyone is very excited for this new opportunity, this new adventure for him."

Meanwhile, mighty Maxime will hold down the fort.