Junior, the Wildlife Center's education Golden Eagle, died on Monday, November 5, 2012.
The veterinary staff will conduct a post-mortem examination today to see if a cause of death can be determined.
Junior was taken from his nest in 1983 at an early age. At about age six months, he escaped his captors [or was released] and was found walking down a road in Merced, California, wearing jesses. His feathers were broken and shredded, suggesting that he had been kept in a wire cage. His feather condition left him unable to fly, and he was admitted to a wildlife rehabilitation facility for treatment, where it was determined that Junior had become imprinted on humans during his time in captivity.
Junior came to the Wildlife Center in March 1985.
Though his ability to fly had been restored, his imprinted status precluded his release into the wild.
For years, Wildlife Center President Ed Clark and Junior traveled throughout Virginia and beyond, to fulfill the Wildlife Center's mission -- teaching the world to care about and to care for wildlife and the environment.
Ed states, "Saying goodbye to a friend and partner you've known and loved for nearly three decades is certainly not easy. Junior lived at home with me for the first 15 years we were together, before moving to his new home at the Center. He certainly aged better than I ... I am certainly going to miss him. There are so many memories that are welling up for me; so many adventures we shared, and so much history together.
Goodbye my friend; you will never be forgotten."