A rare Philippine eagle – one of two housed at Singapore’s Bird Paradise, an aviary located in Mandai –died on Thursday due to an infection from a still undetermined cause.
The Mandai Wildlife Group said on Friday that Geothermica – known as “Geo” – was taken to a ward at the Avian Health and Research Centre at Bird Paradise on Wednesday, after his care team noticed he was “not feeding well, and initial blood tests indicated he was fighting an infection”.
The 19-year-old eagle was treated and kept under close watch by Mandai Wildlife’s veterinary healthcare and avian team, with help from the Philippine Eagle Foundation.
But on Thursday evening, he collapsed and had to be resuscitated twice.
He was given a blood transfusion after a repeat test showed his red blood cell count was low, as his body was focused on producing white blood cells to fight off the infection.
Despite these efforts, Geo died.
“X-rays taken earlier showed severe infection in his lung, leading to a guarded prognosis. Preparation is being made for a necropsy and lab tests to get a definitive diagnosis,” Mandai Wildlife said.
It said it is now turning its attention to Geo’s partner, Sambisig, older by two years, “to ensure she adjusts well in this period of transition”.
“For Geo’s care team and veterinarians who did their best to turn the situation around, losing him under such circumstances is heart wrenching,” said Dr Luis Neves, vice-president, animal care, at Mandai Wildlife.
“Geo will always hold a special place in all our hearts. He was an incredible presence in our park and a great ambassador for his species,” he said.
The eagle “liked to keep his personal space neat and tidy, spending much of his time in his aviary arranging his nest to his liking”, Mandai Wildlife said. “He also liked observing people that passed by his aviary.”
Geo and Sambisig, two of the world’s rarest raptors, were sent to Mandai Wildlife in June 2019 under a wildlife loan agreement between Singapore and the Philippines.
It was the first time the Philippines lent for conservation its indigenous eagles, which are considered a national treasure and whose image is featured on the Philippine 1,000-peso bill.
With a wing span of two metres and a body length of one metre, the Philippine eagle is considered the largest eagle species. It is listed as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
A top predator that feeds on monkeys, lemurs, squirrels and bats, it used to roam in fairly large numbers across the Philippines.
But decades of deforestation and the encroaching urban sprawl have nearly decimated its territories and its population has rapidly declined.
Only about 800 individuals are left in the wild today, with 32 kept in breeding centres.
Philippine eagles pair for life and lay just a single egg every two years.
Hopes had been high that Geo and Sambisig would mate and produce offspring.
Geo was moved from the old Jurong Bird Park to his new home at Bird Paradise’s Winged Sanctuary on June 12, 2023.
Mandai Wildlife Group said he seemed to have settled in well and began displaying behaviours indicating interest to mate with Sambisig.
Bird Paradise, one of Singapore’s most popular tourist attractions, is home to over 3,500 birds from 400 species.
The park has been instrumental in various conservation efforts. The Philippine eagles were one of its main attractions.
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