Brian the eagle dies

This story was in the Vancouver Sun this morning.

'Special bird' Brian is dead
Bald eagle had been fitted with beak prostheses after being shot eight years ago
Canwest News Service
Published: Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Brian, a bald eagle that attracted international attention after it received a one-of-a-kind prosthetic beak, has died.

The eagle had lived at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre near Nanaimo since 2001, when it was treated for a severe gunshot wound that destroyed most of the top portion of its beak.

The injured bird was nursed back to health by centre manager Robin Campbell.
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"He was a very special bird," Campbell said.

The bird's remarkable recovery was aided by his namesake, dentist Brian Andrews, who with Victoria denturist Fred Leak designed the first in a series of unique beak prostheses. Leak took over the remaining designs and manufacturing of the prostheses.

Over the last eight years, Brian received 10 prostheses. In the last year, it became apparent the prosthesis was becoming cumbersome for Brian and it was removed.

His care worker still cut up his food for him but his overall body condition was worsening in spite of regular intervention by a veterinarian.

Brian was an older bird, but the decision to humanely destroy him was agonizing for Campbell. "It was a very sad day for me but I know we made the right decision," he said. "We always want the quality of life to come first."

Work done with Brian was groundbreaking for rescuers. Leak was asked to help eagles in Oregon and Alaska. San Diego Zoo asked for advice to make a prosthesis for a toucan.

Brian the eagle was at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre near Nanaimo. If you are on the island, the place is worth seeing. My wife and I have seen Brian several times over the last three years. The prosthetic beak was a near miracle for that bird.
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