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Irish Ranger Rescued Wayward 'Tourist' : Eagle Flies Home--First Class in a Jet

December 22, 1987|Reuters

SHANNON, Ireland — An American bald eagle, found exhausted and starving after flying across the Atlantic, winged its way home first-class by jet today with an official send-off from Irish Prime Minister Charles Haughey.

"I wish Godspeed to our feathered friend. May he live long and happily in the wild back in his natural habitat," Haughey told reporters on the steps to the plane taking the eagle back to the United States. The bald eagle is the country's national symbol.

The 6-month-old bird, tethered on the arm of Irish wildlife ranger Pat O'Connell, tried to fly off in startled fright as Haughey called for a round of applause for the bird proudly spreading its giant wings.

O'Connell, who nursed the bird back to health on a diet of venison and pigeons after finding it in Killarney National Park in western Ireland, then gently put the eagle back in its cage for the seven-hour flight to New York.

Irish state airline Aer Lingus donated the first-class compartment of its flight from Shannon to New York to the bird, now officially named Iolar--Gaelic for eagle.

O'Connell believes the eagle was chased by its parents out of their territory, got lost and then flew 3,000 miles across the Atlantic with the help of strong westerly winds.

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