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Carteret Health Care Strengthens Eagle Landing

The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is excited to partner with Carteret Health Care’s Joint & Spine Center in the opening of Eagle Landing, a sanctuary for two flightless bald eagles, Uwohali and Shagoie Watha, scheduled to open the fourth of July.

This partnership highlights and strengthens the importance rehabilitation plays on quality of life, regardless of the species or injury.

“Carteret Health Care’s Joint & Spine Center has been given an opportunity to assist a program whose sole purpose is healing and rehabilitation of some very special local wildlife. As our national symbol, these eagles will now serve as a very special and unique educational tool for our community,” said Dick Brvenik, CEO of Carteret Health Care. “Just as our hospital heals and offers compassionate rehabilitation care for orthopedic patients, we are extending our reach to assist these two special local wildlife as they continue to rehabilitate in a new sanctuary. Typically, strong and independent, the bald eagles were injured and needed restorative health assistance, similar to the care we provide for patients every day.”

Eagle Landing is a 3,000-square-foot oasis with large perches and a rock pond designed entirely by aquarium staff to provide the non-flighted birds a comfortable home.

“The hospital’s generosity will equip the aquarium with resources to take care of the injured eagles,” said Jim Mulvey, North Carolina Aquarium Society development director. “Without tremendous partnerships like this one, the aquarium would not have the ability to grow in its mission of inspiring appreciation of our aquatic environments.”

The first bald eagle to arrive at the aquarium, Uwohali, came from the Cape Fear Raptor Center in Rocky Point. She is a juvenile who had both wings amputated near the wrist after being electrocuted by what staff believe was an encounter with powerlines. Her name, which means “one who soars with the creator,” comes from the Meherrin Indian Tribe and is pronounced “oo-woe-hah-lee.”

The second bald eagle, Shagoie Watha, is an adult female who came to the aquarium from TreeHouse Wildlife Center in Dow, Illinois, with her left wing amputated just below the elbow after being found with an irreparable injury. Her name, which means “one who causes an awakening,” comes from the Meherrin Indian Tribe and is pronounced “Sha-go-ee-yay Wa-ta.”

Both are unable to fly and would not survive in the wild. The aquarium is honored to be able to provide them a permanent home and life-long care.

“I have wanted to work with eagles in any capacity my entire life,” said Amanda Goble, the aquarium aviculturist, who has worked with birds for more than 10 years. “This is truly a childhood dream. Being able to care for them and work with them every day is a huge responsibility and a complete honor.”

Aquarium staff thought the birds should have names that truly describe the strength and resilience both birds have shown, and that also reflected the eagle’s strong connection to American Indian culture found in North Carolina. The aquarium worked closely with the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs and North Carolina's tribes to create a short list of names for each bird and Facebook fans were offered the chance to vote for the names in March.

Naming is an important part of the care and training of each bird. It helps build relationships between trainer and bird, fosters respect and awareness for the animal, and creates a connection with visitors.

The birds are trained through positive reinforcement to build new skills and learn new behaviors. This helps with health assessments and veterinary care, and also enables the birds to be comfortable in new situations. This was especially important last year before Hurricane Florence when other birds in the aquarium’s care were moved to new and safer locations inside the building during the storm.

“After being rescued, the eagles have become even stronger and determined during their healing and rehabilitation. As our national emblem, these eagles are the perfect symbol of strength and determination, very much like our patients at Carteret Health Care during their healing and recovery,” said Brvenik.