PHOTO IN THE NEWS: Bionic Beak for Bald Eagle

bald eagle to get bionic artificial beak - photo
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May 5, 2008—Shown on April 23, 2008, at a raptor recovery center in St. Maries, Idaho, Beauty the bald eagle will undergo surgery in June to replace the upper beak she lost to a bullet at least two years ago.

(Related photo: "Balding Penguin Gets Custom Wet Suit" [April 25,2008].)

Beauty's current stump is useless for hunting food, so a biologist has been hand-feeding the bird with forceps.

Jane Fink Cantwell, who operates Cantwell's Birds of Prey Northwest, has spent the past two years assembling a team to design and build the nylon-composite beak.

They plan to glue it to Beauty next month. With the beak, the 7-year-old bald eagle could live to be 50, although not in the wild—the fake beak won't be strong enough to allow Beauty to cut and tear flesh.

The 15-pound (7-kilogram) eagle was found in 2005 scrounging for food and slowly starving at a landfill in Alaska.

Erik Stauber of the nearby Washington State University veterinary hospital does not have a lot of faith the artificial beak will work.

"It's a valiant effort to do something," he said. "We have no experience with it."

—Nicholas K. Geranios, Associated Press

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