RAMONA, Calif. - A West Nile virus-stricken bald eagle nursed back to health at a local facility was successfully returned to the wild Friday.
"Just to see him released and fly away strongly was wonderful," said Dr. Todd Cecil, a veterinarian with the Pet Emergency and Specialty Center.
Cecil is the one who diagnosed the national symbol with the disease that has killed humans and animals.
"That first day, he was so lethargic, so emaciated that it's possible he wasn't going to survive that first night," said the Fund for Animals Director Ali Crumpacker.
"He would have died in the wild," said Cecil. "The nursing care that he got here at the Fund for Animals pulled him through."
It's the first bald eagle Crumpacker has helped in her years of working with predators.
"We work with some of the species that are not everybody's favorites," said Crumpacker of her clientele.
The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center has helped 800 animals so far this year. The nonprofit works mostly through donations.