Monday, February 11, 2008

Animal of the Week -- January 11, 2008

Hello and apologies for slackness,
I so enjoyed the mole the other week that I wanted to give it plenty of time to be AOTW... or I just spent the last week drunk... one of the two, let's go with the mole story.

This week's animal of the week is kind of one animal used as a representative of a whole species. For this week's animal of the week is Electra the golden eagle who has become the first eagle recipient of successful cataract removal. Golden eagles (Aquila chriseatos) are widely regarded as some of the best hunters among the birds of prey. Soaring high over highlands and wild spaces across the entire northern hemisphere from Kamchatka to Kinross in either direction, they are able to spot a mountain hair loping through the furze from two miles away.

Electra of Greek myth was complicit in the murder of her mother Clytemnestra and step father Aegisthus to avenge their murder of her father Agamemnon. Electra the eagle was named after her failure to spot -- eagle eyed indeed -- an electricity pylon in Mull. The collision resulted in severe burns. Apparently the eagle's slack judgement was not due to already poor eyesight but actually caused the traumatic cataracts, leaving poor Electra as blind as a bat -- though presumably not as blind as a spectacled bat (Pteropus conspicillatus).

Fortunately Electra was rescued and taken to Wings Over Mull, a centre for sick and injured birds in the highlands and islands. Staff noticed Electra's problem sight and ordered the first ever operation to remove cataracts from a golden Eagle. A short surgery later and Electra now has good eyesight in one eye. Though not a clean bill of health, because her eyesight is not fully recovered in both eyes she will not be able to return to the wild, but she has been housed with a male golden eagle with a broken wing.

Such pioneering operations offer hope for other animals with poor eyesight: such as the spectacled bear, the monocled fox, and the astigmatism weevil (some or none of which may be fictional).

On January 30th, the day I eventually sent the last animal of the week, by pure coincidence, the rare genius that is Howard Hardiman did a mole in his excellent when pigeons weep web cartoon series, Do have a browse, but be warned, some of the entries are a little, er, racey.
All the best!

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