American Beauty

You Smell Somethin?You know I feel pretty, oh so pretty, I feel so pretty, so happy so gay. I feel this way because I’m beautiful. Well, I was before I started losing hair all over my body. Here’s a story of trying to build up the self esteem of a bald eagle named Beauty.

(AP) — She has been named Beauty, though this eagle is anything but. Part of Beauty’s beak was shot off several years ago, leaving her with a stump that is useless for hunting food. A team of volunteers is working to attach an artificial beak to the disfigured bird, in an effort to keep her alive.

“For Beauty it’s like using only one chopstick to eat. It can’t be done” said biologist Jane Fink Cantwell, who operates a raptor recovery center in this Idaho Panhandle town.

I have to agree, eating with chopsticks is impossible. I don’t care if you have one, two or a chopstick for each paw. Give me a fork, or spork, any day of the week.

Cantwell has spent the past two years assembling a team to design and build an artificial beak. They plan to attach it to Beauty next month. With the beak, the 7-year-old bald eagle could live to the age of 50, although not in the wild.

The 15-pound eagle was found in 2005 scrounging for food and slowly starving to death at a landfill in Alaska. Most of her curved upper beak had been shot away, leaving her tongue and sinuses exposed. She could not clutch or tear at food.

Beauty was taken to a bird recovery center in Anchorage, where she was hand-fed for two years while her caretakers waited in vain for a new beak to grow.

“They had exhausted their resources and she would likely be euthanized,” Cantwell said.

Beauty was taken in 2007 to Cantwell’s Birds of Prey Northwest ranch in Idaho after permits were obtained from the federal government.

Soon after, Cantwell met Nate Calvin during a speaking engagement in Boise. Calvin, a mechanical engineer, offered to design an artificial beak. A dentist, veterinarian and other experts eventually volunteered to help.

Molds were made of the existing beak parts and scanned into a computer, so the bionic beak could be created as accurately as possible.

“One side has much greater damage than the other,” Cantwell said. “It’s not as simple as a quick, snapped-off beak, 90 degrees and flush.”

The nylon-composite beak is light and durable, and will be glued onto the eagle.

Are we talking crazy glue? Certainly if it can hold a construction worker hanging from a beam, it could hold a beak to an eagle. Then again, they could use Elmer’s glue and keeping the cure in the animal realm.

The artificial beak won’t be strong enough to allow Beauty to cut and tear flesh from prey. But it will help her to drink water, and to grip and eat the food she is given.

And if Beauty needs help, I’d be more than willing to serve as her official food tearer…I might actually let her have some of it ;)

Shooting a bald eagle, though they are no longer on the endangered species list, remains a violation of federal law.

Canines shooting a moon at other motorists is still legal.


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