Harpy Eagle hatches in Brazil refuge, bringing hope for species

(Reuters) - A fluffy Harpy Eagle recently born at Brazil’s Bela Vista Biological Refuge is keeping the center’s caretakers busy as they seek to preserve this near-threatened species.

The white eagle, hatched on April 26, weighs just 158 grams (5.6 oz) but will grow to 8-10 kilos (17-22 lbs) - one of the world’s largest eagles. Its talons will be as big as those of grizzly bears, which in the wild allow it to capture sloths, monkeys and other animals in the rainforest for food.

One eagle parent chirped with apparent approval as the baby grabbed morsels of meat with its beak from veterinarian Pedro Enrrique Ferreira.

“We feed him four times a day every day. This first month he’s in an incubator, nice and warm so that he doesn’t get too cold or hot, with a very controlled temperature,” he said.

“After the incubator the process of teaching him how to fly starts. He’ll go to a nest and spend a few more months there because this is an animal that grows a lot.”

Harpy Eagles have been named a near-threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The latest arrival is the 50th Harpy eaglet born at the refuge, the world’s largest reproduction center for Harpy Eagles in captivity. It was set up after the construction of Brazil’s massive Itaipu dam to preserve the region’s fauna.

Writing by Richard Chang, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien