[Eagle Flight]Sam the bald eagle takes flight at Reds game for first time since 2019

Tag: 2021-10-06 01:43

  CINCINNATI —

  Sam the bald eagle is flying again.

  For the first time since 2019, the rescued bald eagle performed at the Cincinnati Reds game, taking flight from center field to the pitcher’s mound ahead of a game against the San Diego Padres at Great American Ball Park.

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  Sam calls the Cincinnati Zoo his home. He used to venture out quite a bit in the summer months, but the pandemic has kept him cooped up at the zoo.

  But now, for the first time since July 2019, Sam will embark once again on a stadium flyover tour. He’ll take flight on June 29 at the Reds vs. Padres game during the pre-game national anthem.

  Since Sam made his major league debut in 2003, he has flown to the pitcher’s mound nearly 100 times.

  The eagle is now in his mid-20s.

  It’s an incredible story for the bird who was found injured by the side of the road in 1999 when he was just months old. He was rehabbed at Michigan State University, but his wing damage could not be repaired, and he could not be released back into the wild.

  ”We brought him to Cincinnati in the spring of 2003 and started working with him. He had never been on a glove and we had no idea what his flight ability would be,” said Eddie Annal, head bird trainer at the Cincinnati Zoo and Sam’s target on the mound. “The first time he came out of his carrier at the ballpark, he sat on his perch for about five minutes, probably figuring out how he would get down to me. Eventually, he glided down to me in center field like a big paper airplane. He had figured out how to soar down despite his injury.”

  Sam’s success story parallels the success of the bald eagle in the United States. In the early 1960s, bald eagles were vanishing from the lower 48 states and on the brink of extinction.

  They were removed from the endangered species list in 2007 and, over a decade after that, there were about 10,000 nests in the lower 48 states, including 221 in Ohio and 164 in Kentucky.