I have some sad news to report on today. On Friday, May 19th, 2023, Maxime, the Veteral bald eagle education ambassador for the Raptor Center, had to be euthanized. Maxime, known to those who loved her as Max, has had issues with arthritis for many years and has been under medical care for it since 2019.

This year, her annual exam and a CT scan confirmed that all of her joints and spine had worsened. According to the post on Facebook from The Raptor Center, End-stage arthritis can be very painful 'with compression in her left knee, many points in both wings and legs, as well as some changes to her spine."

Maxime's medical team has been keeping her pain under control for many years, and has been trying their hardest to make her comfortable. Friday, the whole team gathered together in the clinic when she had to be euthanized.

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Maxime was admitted to the Raptor Center in 1999 with lead toxicity and an injury to her left wing. The medical team was able to treat the lead toxicity, but because of the damage to her left elbow, she would not have survived in the wild, so they couldn't release her. Instead, her life was changed forever. She was trained and became an education ambassador. Maxime served as an ambassador for 24 years and participated in over 6,000 programs during her life in captivity.


The Facebook article had this to say about Maxime:

Max’s rockstar status is best memorialized by her appearance at the opening of the Huntington Bank Stadium (then TCF Bank Stadium) in 2009. Over 50,000 people were in attendance along with marching bands, Goldy Gopher, fireworks, and an air force flyover. Her handlers, Laura Freeman and Dr. Julia Ponder were prepared to resign Max from the event at her first sign of stress; however, that never happened. Max never shied away from the spotlight. She even received a glamor shot, a favorite of ours, taken by photographer Patrick O’Leary.


An amazing ambassador for her species, she made the impacts of pressing ecosystem health issues like environmental contamination much more real for our community and frequently attended high-profile events, including hearings at the state legislature, scientific meetings, and appearances in national media. Additionally, with her steady and patient demeanor, she was always ready to assist in training others on the handling of ambassador birds and raptor welfare.
You can see the whole Facebook post below:


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