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Life Lifter: How a Bald Eagle Becomes a Teacher
Beauty the Eagle had her beak disfigured in 2005, when she was shot by a poacher. Set aside the grim symbolism of shooting an American Bald Eagle in the face, for a moment -- it's sad and brutal, yes. But what happened to Beauty is a lovely tonic. Jane Fink Cantwell, a raptor specialist at Idaho's Birds of Prey Northwest, has cared for Beauty all these years, through the hopes that her beak would grow back (it didn't) all the way to the near-unanimous call for euthanization (Cantwell refused). Beauty could not clean or feed herself, and so needed constant care and attention, and faced the possibility of never again living in the wild. Then, while giving a talk about Beauty, Cantwell met mechanical engineer Nate Calvin. Read the whole story in the Guardian for the amazing process Calvin used to fashion a prosthetic beak with a 3D printer.
The video below shows the process of fitting Beauty for her new beak. Watching it, especially the palpable nervousness of the poor confused bird, is a real nail-biter. But it worked, and Beauty was finally able clean and feed herself.
While the Guardian reports that Beauty has had problems with keeping the beak attached, to me the best part of the story is that so many people have worked so hard to help the eagle reclaim her life. "It's a story about a Bald Eagle becoming a teacher," Cantwell says. And knowing that her process of rehabilitation is ongoing is a good reminder to all of us. Transformation may not happen overnight, but it's the process, not necessarily the result, that has the most to teach us.
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