best (feathered) friends forever

Houston Zoo swoops in to save a critically injured national icon

Houston Zoo swoops in to save a critically injured national icon

Houston Zoo bald eagle Mae
Mae is chilling with her fellow bald eagle BFF, Sally Ride.  Photo by Jackelin Reyna

As the nation prepares to celebrate Fourth of July, an enduring patriotic symbol is resting comfortably at Houston’s beloved wildlife refuge. A bald eagle, lovingly named Mae — in tribute to Mae Jemison, the first Black woman in space — is being rehabilitated at the Houston Zoo after a near-fatal injury.

Mae was found by a game warden in Huxley, Texas during February’s Winter Storm Uri, suffering from an open wing fracture, according to the zoo. She was taken to Last Chance Forever, a wildlife clinic for birds of prey, and started antibiotic treatment.

Her journey continued to Lufkin, where her wing fracture was discovered. Though she has recovered from the infection, she has difficulty flying. That’s when the zoo stepped in to help; Mae arrived in Houston on May 6.

Fittingly, Mae is spending time with another bald eagle, Sally Ride. NASA fans will recognize that as yet another female notable name in space flight. The pair “hit it off,” the zoo notes, and were moved to the Texas Wetlands bald eagle exhibit on June 15. 

Not unlike her winged BFFF (Best Feathered Friend Forever), Sally was found by a game warden in Sallisaw, Oklahoma — she too with an injured wing. Much like Mae, Sally was unable to fly after her injury; she came to Houston from the Tulsa Zoo.

Though obviously not common in Greater Houston (other than a certain zoo), bald eagles can be found in Texas and throughout North America. Conservation efforts, especially the banning of harmful pesticides, helped the iconic bird recover; in 2007, the bald eagle was removed from the federal endangered species list.