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Hundreds Gather to Watch Healed Bald Eagle's Return to the Skies

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This event was unique since bald eagles aren't usually found in this area This event was unique since bald eagles aren't usually found in this area
Hundreds gathered to watch the bald eagle's release Hundreds gathered to watch the bald eagle's release
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

All of this rain couldn’t put a damper on a historic event held at Walnut Creek Park.

Hundreds of people gathered to see the release of an iconic American symbol - a bald eagle – as it took flight on Thursday, August 2.

Thursday's release of that bald eagle was a special one for people who had never before seen one up close.

But it was also a unique event. This was the Wildlife Center of Virginia's first release of its kind in Albemarle County.

“It was amazing,” says Heidi Thorsen, who came to the park on Thursday.

This bald eagle was rescued back in March when someone noticed it was injured on the side of the road.

In the past five months, the eagle has recovered from its injuries.

“It's just great that there's a place that they care that much about animals that they will give up five months just for one eagle and that's wonderful,” says Kathy, a woman who came to watch the eagle’s release.

After a few moments of letting people see the eagle up close, it was time for the big moment.

And that moment came with cheers and joy as the eagle once again took flight.

“It was so cool; I've never seen an eagle that close to my face before,” says JP Anderson, another spectator.

In the Wildlife Center's 35 years, this eagle was the first to be released in Albemarle County since they're most commonly found in the eastern portion of the state.

“A lot of their primary habitat is gone - developed, deforested, turned into farms or fields, or highways, or power lines, or what have you - but no longer suitable for bald eagles," says Ed Clark, the president and co-founder of the Wildlife Center of Virginia. "So as the population grows, these birds are being pushed if you will further west in the state."

The center is glad it’s able to return the eagle to its natural habitat.

“This bird came from right here south of Charlottesville, and to be able not only to release it at all given the extent of her injuries, but to be able to basically bring her back home was just a real special treat,” says Clark.

“I'm going to tell my mom and dad,” says Kathy. “We saw a bald eagle and it was so cool.”

So far this year, the Wildlife Center has admitted 32 bald eagles.

The center’s goal is to treat as many animals as possible and release them back into the wild.

This year, the center is estimated to treat over 2,000 patients ranging from bald eagles to chipmunks.