A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Eagle Aviary in Shawnee. It was an incredible experience for my friends and I. From the moment we arrived, I felt like I was stepping into another world.
The Golden Eagle, Myanabe, who lives at the Eagle Aviary greeted us as we entered. He is huge and beautiful and has an incredible story.
Myanabe was poisoned when he ate lead bullets in a discarded animal. The poison caused damage to his body and caused him to nearly go blind. After his recovery, Myanabe is able to live safely at the Eagle Aviary with Bree Dunham, one of the managers of the aviary. The relationship between Bree and the eagle is incredible, built on mutual trust.
One visitor to the aviary, Amyy Schumer, shared her thoughts about her experience there.
“The eagle aviary is truly a hidden gem of Shawnee. The beauty of the birds is incredible, and it's all the sweeter to see the relationship between them and their caretakers.”
One of the most amazing aspects of the Eagle Aviary was the deep connection between the directors and the eagles.
The path to starting the aviary was a personal journey for Jennifer and Bree. Their mother and their heritage inspired them toward being involved in taking care of these amazing birds. The Eagle is an important symbol in the Potawatomi culture beginning with their account of creation and continuing today through important moments and ceremonies.
One of their most inspiring stories is that of Wadase Zhabwe.
Wadase came to the aviary in 2012; she had fallen out of her nest and injured a wing earlier that year. The rehabilitators were not hopeful that she would ever be released. However, after coming to the aviary, Wadase began to fly. A year later, the Eagle Aviary was granted permission to release Wadase into the wild. She was release with a GPS telemetry backpack which she is still wearing today. The updates have allowed the aviary to track where Wadase is flying. Soon, they expect that Wadase will choose a mate and start building a nest.
Another visitor, Abigail McPheeters, described her experience.
“My favorite part was hearing how they rescue the eagles and then seeing those rescued eagles personally. It is one thing to hear the story and and appreciate it, but it is another thing to hear it and see the results!”
The CPN Eagle Aviary offers a permanent home to eagles rescued from the wild that have been injured and cannot be rehabilitated and released. While only a handful of Native American aviaries exist in the U.S., this facility is the first of its kind to incorporate culturally significant elements into the facility design. We pride ourselves on practicing sound husbandry to provide these Eagles permanent homes in an environment created with enrichment intended to replicate a portion of their wild habitat.
For more information about the eagle aviary or to schedule a tour, visit http://www.potawatomiheritage.com/tourfacility-information/.