Caged No More

“No longer bound by your infirmities on earth

you now fly free on wings of the spirit

caged no more”

© Julie Rehnelt 2014



I was so sad to learn today that Leuc, a bald eagle at the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine died this week.  My daughter and I had just visited him and the other raptors at the center in January, when I snapped the above photo of him.  Such an amazing, majestic creature, my amateur photography doesn’t do justice to this truly remarkable animal.

I follow the Raptor Center on Facebook and came across the following article while going through my news-feed this morning…   So sad.  :/


To let you know a bit more about Leuc, I copied and pasted the below information about him from the Raptor Center’s website, I imagine they’ll be changing/updating their write-up of him now that he has passed.

Leuc’s story:

Leuc was found in Hayward, Wis., alongside a highway with an injured right wing. A veterinarian in Hayward received the bird and cared for him for a few months, but it became apparent that his wing was not healing normally. The eagle was admitted to The Raptor Center on August 31, 1983. A physical exam and x-rays revealed that his right shoulder joint had been severely injured and had healed in a way that limited the wing’s range of movement. Unfortunately, Leuc would never fly again. He was transferred to the education department and named “Leuc” in reference to the bald eagle’s scientific name, Haliaeetus leucocephalus. Leuc was a very popular ambassador bird and frequently traveled to offsite programs. A news article from the late 1990s describes him as The Raptor Center’s most-photographed eagle. Unfortunately, in March 1999, Leuc started showing signs of lameness. An x-ray revealed a small lump in the flexor tendon, above the left hock joint. Despite being taken off display for a number of weeks, there were no signs of improvement, so on May 4, Leuc underwent surgery in which a pea-sized mass was removed. The mass was part of a “fibrosarcoma,” or cancerous tumor. Surgery to remove the tumor would cause permanent lameness. Radiation was the best option. Although there was little known about cancer treatment in raptors, Leuc’s treatment was successful and subsequent radiographs showed the mass was gone. Leuc is retired from programs now, but continues to educate in his new home—his display mew—in the lobby of The Raptor Center.

So sad is the loss of this lovely creature, but he’s free now, as an eagle should be…


✿~Peace & Love~✿

Peace and Love 1

14 responses to “Caged No More

  1. Als Naturfotograf kan ich nur sagen schade um diesen wunderschoenen Vogel!


  2. Poor Leuc, he had a tough life with injuries and health problems. I love the poem you wrote. I can almost see his spirit, rising free once more.


  3. At least he’s in a place where he doesn’t have pain anymore and he’s able to fly again. 🙂


  4. I think he led a noble life – he was at least 31 years old – significantly longer than the 20-yr. average of wild birds. One can only speculate if he was ‘miserable’ or ‘content’ to live a well-nourished life in captivity. He would have died young in the wild, but was able to have life and isn’t that why we’re here? I do believe everything has Spirit, so I imagine Leuc’s is soaring right now. 🙂


    • I think he lived a noble life too Eliza. In being a part of the University’s education department, he helped educate and raise awareness of “the critical importance of raptors in our shared ecosystem,” in addition to living a longer life than he would have in the wild, as you mentioned. Although I don’t know for certain, I’d like to think Leuc’s spirit is living on in some type of capacity ~ hopefully flying free on those “wings of the spirit” I mention in my poem. 🙂


  5. ‘Caged no more…’ I just knew it had to be sad. So sorry, Julie. They are such beautiful birds.


  6. This is sad Julie. What a beautiful bird he was and how pleased you must be that you’d just been to see him. Much love xx


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