Sequoia, a 24-year-old bald eagle who’s lived at the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo for the past six months, returned home Monday night. The tame eagle escaped last Saturday from her handler when she was out flying.
Sequoia was in a tree in the Friendly Acres neighborhood of Redwood City Monday night when she dropped from her perch to longtime trainer John Flynn's outstretched arm.
Sequoia was relocated as an eaglet from British Columbia to Big Sur. She wasn’t very old when she was found on a ranch in Humboldt County suffering from a gunshot wound. She recovered, but suffered permanent wounds that prevent her from hunting. As a result, she’s lived in zoos her entire life, acting as an ambassador for her species.
Her wounds include a paralyzed tail. Eagles use their tails as brakes, which is especially important when flying in the wind.
Sequoia has been trained to come to her handler, and is regularly taken out of the zoo and allowed to fly. The zoo speculates that Sequoia panicked last Saturday when a sudden gust of wind prevented her from returning safely to her handler.
"This is not to be unexpected," John Aikin, the zoo's executive director was quoted by the San Jose Mercury News. Aiken helped train her as the director of avian conservation at the San Francisco Zoo. "It's not the first time it's happened. And I don't think it's the last." Sequoia escaped eight times during her tenure in San Francisco. The raptor is fitted with a radio transmitter so she can be tracked.
Sequoia gobbled down a quail and mouse Monday night.
She’ll soon be back to her routine of flying around Byxbee Park. "It's a hassle (when she escapes), but we think that hassle is worth the reward to fly her," Aikin said. "She enjoys it. We enjoy it. The public enjoys it."
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