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CNN Today

Saving the Eagles at San Francisco Zoo

Aired March 9, 2000 - 2:43 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, farther north, the San Francisco Zoo is caring for a crime victim, a bald eagle injured by an unknown shooter. They're also working on a plan to make the future of this national symbol more secure.

John Fowler with CNN station KTUV explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN FOWLER, KTUV REPORTER (voice-over): On this drizzly day at the San Francisco Zoo's Bird Center, there was a bright example of human caring and a dark example of human cruelty.

The bright spot, this bald eagle chick only three hours old. So valuable it has an international number, 200-010, no name yet. It's the offspring of a pair of breeding eagles here literally hatched to be wild.

KATHY HOBSON, SAN FRANCISCO ZOO: Will be put into a wild nest in about a week and a half.

FOWLER: At the same time, this adult bald eagle cowered in the zoo's quarantine enclosure. His name is Bobby. He too was born at the zoo six years ago and set free a week after hatching. Today he's just arrived from Bakersfield where someone shot him.

DR. FREELAND DUNKER, ZOO VETERINARIAN: Shattering the wrist area and also some of the forearm as well. And unfortunately, due to the damages that were done, that area had to be amputated.

FOWLER: The emergency surgery saved his life.

(on camera): Remarkable as the story of Bobby's individual survival, the story of the bald eagles is nothing short of dramatic. Because of the captive breeding program, these birds are back from the brink of extinction.

(voice-over): The zoo's avian conservation program is the most successful in the world. In the last 15 years, 37 bald eagles hatched and released to the wild, most into nests on the cliffs of Santa Catalina Island.

The program has been so effective, last year the government declared the bald eagle no longer endangered. These bald eagle eggs are the future, incubating at 99 degrees. Little 010 is the first of as many as a dozen chicks the zoo hopes will hatch this year.

HOBSON: Hopefully, this bird in about five years will be breeding and producing offspring and, eventually, we'll work ourselves out of a job.

FOWLER: Bobby, however, will likely never mate and could live 40 years in captivity unable the fly, the sad result of an unknown shooter's thoughtlessness.

DUNKER: Just to shoot it, I just don't understand -- don't understand. So it is -- it is a disheartening thing to see that.

FOWLER: It's also a federal crime. And now authorities are offering a $5,000 reward in the case of this wounded national symbol.

John Fowler for the 10:00 News.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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