What happened to Rita? Eagle disappeared from Zoo Miami, and back with ‘horrible injury’

Zoo Miami

It’s an uncertain future for Rita the eagle.

Rita disappeared from Zoo Miami for a couple of days. The bald eagle is back now, but badly hurt.

Zoo Miami’s animal health team and chief veterinarians worked on Rita on Monday. Rita received antibiotics, pain medication, fluids, vitamins and wound care.

She’s still in critical condition, but stabilized. Zoo staff told Miami Herald news partner CBS Miami that she has a chance at surviving, but it will be an uphill battle.

“The wound was very badly opened up. It already had maggots in it. It was in very, very bad condition so she was a bit dehydrated also,” said Ron Magill, Zoo Miami’s communications director.

Zoo Miami workers say they saw Rita getting ready to nest and then all of a sudden she flew off for a couple days. Nobody knew where she was. Eagles always return to the same nest spot every year so it wasn’t looking good.

“But ... she was brought in by Fish and Wildlife in critical condition,” Magill said. “She had a horrible injury to her wing. Her right wing has a terrible compound fracture. She had blood all over her. It was really a touch-and-go situation.”

Eagles Rita and Ron achieved international fame last year when they created a nest on a platform built by Wildlife Rescue of Dade County. They were featured on a live nest cam and the world watched live as they laid their eggs on Thanksgiving and hatched their chicks on New Year’s.

The next 24 to 48 hours will be critical for Rita. She will need surgery and it’s unknown if will fly again. Zoo workers tell us they are not giving up hope.

“Please say prayers for this bird,” Magil said. “She is an iconic bird and it’s kind of heartbreaking to see Ron in a nest by himself right now because these birds do mate for life and I know he’s wondering where she is.”