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In April 2018, we experienced the loss of our Bald Eagle ambassador, Sparky. To read about Sparky’s incredible rescue, and how he touched the hearts of all who knew him, please read the following eulogy written by long-time volunteer Claudia Benfield:
In Memory of Sparky
August 2005 – April 26, 2018
Written by Claudia Benfield, Volunteer
It is with immense sadness that we have to report the passing of our beloved Bald Eagle, Sparky. Sparky had been battling cancer since 2012, when he had his first of two surgeries to remove a tumor on his left wing; the second of which occurred in August 2017. In the past few months, however, Sparky’s health continued to decline and he began showing signs and symptoms of being in pain. With the loving care of our Raptor Education Program staff and the guidance of many veterinarians, it became obvious that Sparky’s pain from the cancer that had spread through his body was too much to control with pain medications and the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize him. It hurt more to see him suffering, and it would have been more selfish to let him continue that way, so with extreme difficulty everyone at Chintimini said goodbye to our friend Sparky on April 26, 2018.
Sparky was found in August of 2005 along the bank of the Willamette River near Independence, Oregon. The first year juvenile was rescued by a passerby, but not before getting so spooked that the eagle jumped into the river. The passerby bravely and heroically jumped into the river after Sparky and was able to catch him from behind. This brave gentleman promptly brought the bird to Chintimini Wildlife Center to be examined and cared for.
When Sparky arrived at Chintimini, he was very young and trembling with fright, but once in the hands of Chintimini Wildlife Center he ended up living a long life and was always well cared for by the staff. After a few months of Sparky’s arrival, he grew stronger but it was determined that there were problems with his primary flight feathers. The flight feathers would stop growing and fall out because they weren’t getting enough blood. After consulting with many eagle specialists, it was determined that Sparky had a rare genetic defect and would never be able to fly well enough in the wild to be released. So Sparky stayed at Chintimini as part of the Raptor Education Program until his passing.
It was also in 2005, that the students at Mountain View Elementary had decided on having a Bald Eagle as their mascot. Upon hearing of Sparky’s heroic rescue, they decided on “adopting” Chintimini’s new Bald Eagle and all of the students at Mountain View Elementary voted on “Sparky” as his name. And what a perfect name they chose.
Sparky was truly the life and love of Chintimini. We will forever miss hearing him chatter at us as we pass by his enclosure, and he was always eager to greet all who visited him. Sparky’s handlers all loved him deeply and gave him the best care. Sparky had such a wonderful personality and everyone always loved learning about his little quirks. In the beginning of his stay at Chintimini, as Sparky’s handlers tried to help him learn to catch his food, they found that he was afraid of mice and would even tremble at the sight of goldfish in his small pool of water! But he did love to play around in the water!
Everyone at Chintimini will deeply miss our friend Sparky, but we will always be grateful for having been able to know him. Sparky was a rare gem, and it is very rare when one being can touch so many lives. It is even rarer when it is a Bald Eagle. Sparky was very loved by all he came in contact with and will remain in our hearts forever.