ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) - A love triangle between bald eagles that played out before thousands of fans on a live webcam has ended badly in Florida with the death of Ozzie, longtime mate of Harriet, according to a Florida wildlife clinic.
Ozzie was critically wounded on Sept. 20 in an aerial battle with his rival, known as Frequent Visitor, who had been stalking Harriet’s nest as Thursday’s start of mating season approached, the clinic said.
He died Tuesday evening of cardiac arrest.
Bald eagles mate for life and eagle watchers had seen Ozzie and Harriet together for more than 20 years. They raised children for the past three seasons before more than 16 million viewers on the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam on a Fort Myers ranch where the two settled in 2006.
“A very sad day but amazing to hear how Ozzie has touched so many,” said a post on the SWFL Eagle Cam Twitter account late Wednesday.
Ozzie collapsed Sunday of septic shock from his wounds, said Heather Barron, the avian medical specialist and surgeon who treated Ozzie at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) on Sanibel Island near Fort Myers on Florida’s southwest coast.
He underwent two surgeries, treatment with intravenous fluids and powerful antibiotics, and open-chested cardiopulmonary resuscitation before dying in front of his medical team.
“There was just no bringing him back. We all tried so hard,” Barron said.
More than 3,822 notes of condolence had been posted as of Thursday afternoon on the eagle cam Facebook page.
Barron estimated Ozzie was in his 30s and in the upper end of his expected life span.
The beginning of the end for Ozzie came in March after he suffered broke bones, possibly after being hit by a train or car, and spent three months in the spring recuperating at CROW’s hospital.
While he was gone, the cam was getting 200,000 hits a day from fans who also followed his progress on Facebook, according to the Fort Myers News-Press.
He returned to the nest in June to find that Harriet had been stepping out with a new potential mate, Frequent Visitor, who remained in the area. Barron said the fight for mating rights, particularly with a younger male, was common in nature.
“He went out in a blaze of glory,” Barron said of Ozzie. “He fought the good fight.”
Editing by David Adams and Bill Trott