Watching an animal struggle to survive is difficult for anyone and downright painful for those who have pets of their own. Whether it is a common house cat, a puppy or something more exotic, seeing any sort of creature struggle is certainly not fun, especially when you are the one who is responsible to take care of that animal. Fortunately for one fortunate golden eagle named “Phoenix,” struggling no longer has to be the order of the day.
Though you may not know it, it is likely you have actually seen Phoenix before. When he was but a baby, he was taken in by Wildlife Images, a group dedicated to protecting injured animals and nurturing them back to health. Deemed unable to reintegrate back into the wild, he needed to spend his entire life in protective care. Realizing this, he spent 12 years at the Oregon Zoo flying in their Birds of Prey show. This means that he spent day after day in front of thousands of park visitors, showing off just how smart a golden eagle can really be.
In addition to his time at the Oregon Zoo, Phoenix also appeared in a variety of films, including: the 1980 TV special “Rocky Mountain Reunion,” the 1985 short film “UP” (done by Mike Hoover productions), and the 1979 movie, “Mountain Family Robinson.” In the bird of prey community, this makes him somewhat of a high achiever.
Unfortunately, as he has lived for so long in captivity, his vision has also seen a significant decline. Specifically, this famous golden eagle suffered from a cataract in his left eye, which left him all but blind. In recent years, those caring for him at Wildlife Images have just had to deal with the unfortunate situation, but thanks to a donation from I-MED Animal Health, they were able to make a change. I-MED donated the lens necessary to correct his vision, and Dr. Cassandra Bliss was set to perform the surgery. On February 3, 2016 at 11 a.m., Phoenix received his cataract surgery at the Southern Oregon Veterinary Specialty Center in Medford. Thanks to the surgery, he can go on living and seeing for the foreseeable future.
Of course, while there might be more focus on Phoenix due to his celebrity status, it is important to realize that there are countless animals that suffer or die each day because they do not have access to a surgery that could otherwise change their life. Fortunately, there are plenty of organizations out there like Wildlife Images, helping their share of animals get the valuable surgery that they do need. In fact, Dr. Bliss has performed this same eye surgery on various dogs, penguins and even some more exotic species.
Sometimes though, it is more important to remember just how much your local veternarian can do and give him or her credit for the many life-saving surgeries he/she has been able to perform over the years. Whether they are just a family pet affecting one person or a movie-star like Phoenix, animals deserve to get the medical care they need.