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W.Va. raptor rehab center mourns loss of eagle

Photo by Tammy Shriver Mike Book, director of the West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center, shows off Thunder, a bald eagle he rehabilitated and partnered with for 21 years. Thunder passed away Dec. 21 due to a respiratory infection.
Photo by Tammy Shriver
Mike Book, director of the West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center, shows off Thunder, a bald eagle he rehabilitated and partnered with for 21 years. Thunder passed away Dec. 21 due to a respiratory infection.

By Emily Gallagher
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — A local bird rehabilitation center has lost one of its symbolic animals.

The West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center (WVRRC) announced that its beloved bald eagle Thunder passed away Dec. 21.

Liz Snyder, director of operations of the WVRRC, said Thunder passed away due to a respiratory infection from which she had been suffering. Snyder said Thunder had been under the treatment of a veterinarian and had been placed on medication, but the infection got the best of her.

“She had been receiving medicine for that since mid-November,” Snyder said. “She just couldn’t shake it.”

Since Thunder came to the WVRRC in 1992, she had been the center’s unforgettable symbol. Snyder said when people thought of the WVRRC, they thought of Thunder.

“We used pictures of her on our website,” she said. “Thunder was our most visible symbol.”

Michael S. Book, founder and director of the WVRRC, was Thunder’s greatest friend and longtime partner. He said Thunder was acting perfectly normal a few days before she passed.

“Two days before she died she was as normal and healthy as she’s ever been in her actions, appearance and habits,” Book said.

Book said when he went to check on her Saturday, he could tell something was wrong.

“I could hear her gasping for air,” he said. “We tried a lot of last-resort stuff. I knew she wasn’t going to live.”

The last three hours of Thunder’s life were spent in the arms of Book while she was being treated.

“I don’t think she figured that she was coming out of there,” he said.

Book started working with Thunder exactly 21 years ago…

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