By BRIAN WIERIMA firstname.lastname@example.org
The rehab process continues for the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife's most famous resident, Ozzie the bald eagle, who is the male half of the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam's raptor duo.
Ozzie underwent a check-up and some physical rehab at CROW Friday and the prognosis is very positive, said attending DVM intern Molly Lien.
"There will be from six to eight weeks of recovery time, which includes time for him to heal and then develop his flight muscles," Lien said. "So far, so good, though. He is eating on his own, which is good. Fortunately, he can now be outside, which is making him much happier."
Ozzie was brought into CROW last Tuesday, March 17, and vets determined he suffered a broken clavicle on his left wing. It was also determined it was Ozzie of the famed Florida Eagle Cam, because of photos matching the injured eagle at CROW.
"He was likely hit with a large impact, because it's tough to break a clavicle," Lien said. "When he was brought in, he was pretty alert. The injury maybe happened that day or the day before. He wasn't dehydrated much, which has helped him in his immediate recovery."
Meanwhile back at the nest, Harriet has been doing well with the eaglet, which has even left the confides on a regular basis, which is a good sign while Ozzie is healing and not around.
The hope is that Ozzie will be able to return to the nest and reunite with his family. But even if Harriet and the eaglet have taken off to their northern destination for the season, there still is a good chance Ozzie can find them there or even next season back at the Florida nest near North Fort Myers.
"We're hoping to get him back to his nest as soon as possible," Lien said. "It's been stressful for both sides, but fortunately, the eaglet is close to fledgling and even has left the nest. They are not as dependent on Ozzie for food now."
Ozzie's rehab has included going inside the CROW hospital up to two to three times a week, where he is put under and his bandages are changed, while his wing and joints are stretched.
He has responded well to wearing the bandages when he is in the CROW rapture shelter and has had minimal human contact.
"We try and keep people interaction limited," Lien said. "We put a hood on him, so he can't see us and he has been eating his antibiotics through his food, so we don't have to chase him down."
Although the bald eagle is garnering plenty of TLC, the attention Ozzie has brought CROW has been quite overwhelming and beneficial, as well.
CROW marketing manager Kenneth Howell said the updates he has been providing on Facebook have had a wonderful response.
"On our Facebook page, we can look and see where people are commenting and looking from, and they are from all over the world, like Japan and Australia," Howell said. "Since March 17, we've received 4,000 additional likes on our Facebook page. After a question and answer session we provided with Dr. (Heather) Barron, we had over 400 emails in three days.
"It's helped with our donations, as well. A lot of people knew of CROW, but didn't know what CROW did. They didn't know we treated these animals and released them back out into the wild and that we are strictly non-profit."
But Ozzie hasn't been the only celebrity to be cared for by CROW in the last couple of months.
A well-known gopher tortoise, who lives on the grounds of Koreshan State Park in Estero, was brought in mid-February after a Park Ranger noticed the long-time resident was congested and had a discharge emanating from his nasal area.
"It's common for gopher tortoises to contract a respiratory disease," said Lien, who treated the tortoise on his arrival. "It's either a virus or bacteria infection and he maybe susceptible getting it again if stressed in future, but it sounds like he has good eyes watching him much of the time at Koreshan."
The gopher tortoise was the largest one the CROW staff has ever seen and possibly one of the oldest, due to his safe confides of living in a protect area. He weighed in at a hefty 28.4 pounds, which is much larger than a normal gopher tortoise.
"The staff knows he's been around the park for at least the last 25-30 years, so we know he is pretty old," Lien added.
After about a month of antibiotic and nebulizer treatments, the tortoise was brought back home to Koreshan Tuesday, March 24.
"They put him down and he just bee-lined right back to his burrow," said Howell, who attended the release. "They thought maybe he would hesitate and take a while to adjust to his settings, but he knew where he was right away."
So no matter if the rehab patient is a feathered one or a scaly one, CROW has been the place to be for celebrity wildlife.
To keep up with updates on Ozzie, Howell will post daily on their Facebook page. To donate to CROW, go to their website at www.crowclinic.org. The Florida Eagle Cam can be found at www.dickpritchettrealestate.com/eagle-feed.html, and watch Harriet and the eaglet await the return of Ozzie from his stay at CROW.
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