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GRANTS PASS, Ore. — The staff at Wildlife Images Rehabilitation & Education Center say that they are sad to announce the passing of Phoenix the golden eagle, a 38-year veteran of their shelter.
Rescuers found Phoenix in the spring of 1980 — just a sickly little eaglet along the side of a logging road near Brookings. Wildlife Images' Executive Director Dave Siddon Jr. went out the the coast to see to the eagle, finding him nestled in the hardhat of one of his rescuers.
Due to Phoenix's poor health and dehydration, Wildlife Images staff needed to provide him round-the-clock feedings and treatments. Phoenix became entirely dependent on people — and especially bonded with Siddon. He would become one of Wildlife Images' educational ambassadors, "exemplifying the majesty of birds of prey at zoos, community events, and of course, thousands of hours spent educating the public with Wildlife Images."
“Phoenix was far and away the most amazing eagle I have ever worked with," said Siddon. "He and I traveled all over the country together working on films and educational programs since I was in my twenties. He will leave a hole in my heart that will last for the rest of my life."
After training from Siddon, Phoenix was cast in a number of commercials and films — starring alongside John Denver in Rocky Mountain Reunion, plus roles in Mountain Family Robinson and an unreleased Disney IMAX production.
"In this way, and at Wildlife Images, Phoenix's iconic legacy will live on," Wildlife Images said in a statement.
Recently, Wildlife Images says that Phoenix began experiencing rapid vision-loss. After staff noticed changes in his behavior, they found that he was in the late stages of kidney failure, with no possibility of treatment. Siddon made the decision to end the noble raptor's suffering with consultation from veterinarians and Wildlife Images' Animal Care Team.
"Phoenix will be greatly missed as the amazing creature and educator he was," the organization said.