Students in a chapel during a pep rally at Oral Roberts University went from cheering “USA! USA!” as a majestic bald eagle soared over their heads, to laughing hysterically and shouting “Shit!” when it smacked into one of the chapel’s giant glass windows.
According to GrindTV, “Lewis” the eagle was supposed to fly from one handler, located at the back of the auditorium, directly to another, standing onstage with ORU president Dr. William Wilson.
In the above video, you can see Lewis flying up, up, up, until, at the last minute, he turns toward the poofy-clouded outside world and slams directly into the window. As he crumples to the ground, his handler, the World Bird Sanctuary’s Roger Wallace, runs up and comforts him.
According to the The Christian Post’s website, the 13-pound, seven-year-old eagle escaped unscathed. But Lacy Campbell, from the Audubon Society’s Wildlife Care Center in Portland, Oregon, says this accident could have been prevented.
It’s not that birds like Lewis shouldn’t be doing these kinds of educational shows, says Campbell, because the shows are the closest some people will ever get to seeing a live bald eagle. Bald eagle education is important because it gets people interested in preserving the national symbol, which, contrary to popular notion, was removed from the Endangered Species List in 2007.
But Campbell says that an estimated one billion birds die annually from window strikes in the U.S. alone, and organizers of the event could have taken measures to prevent Lewis from making impact. “We tell everyone to put decals in big windows to break up the reflection [of the sky],” says Campbell. Campbell can’t be 100 percent certain that decals would have prevented Lewis’s accident, but, statistically, she says, they’ve definitely prevented others.
ORU’s spokeswoman Carissa Bratschun told the Tulsa World News that she was “shocked” by the incident, because Lewis had been doing such performances for several years and even put in practice time at the chapel before the Aug. 21 service at ORU.
“It had practiced five or six times,” Bratschun said, “When the time came, we’re not sure what happened. It flew around the room and then hit a window.”
The Christian Post reported that after the event, viewers expressed outrage and made charges of animal abuse.
“Pretty much par for the course. Brainwashed Christians who are supposed to be stewards of the Earth, who by and large couldn’t care less or believe in our destruction of the planet, abusing a bird for entertainment and then laughing when it flies into a window,” read one comment on a video of the accident uploaded by Lucas Cherry.
Cherry, a Masters of Business student at Oral Roberts University, defended his school against criticism, Tulsa World reported.
“Oral Roberts University is an excellent university and I am proud to be a part of it. This video was of no disrespect to ORU. The eagle was completely fine and was trained to fly in auditoriums,” Cherry wrote. “He flew at the Cardinals stadium last night. He was rescued after an injury to his leg and would have died had it not been for the bird refuge who took him in and trained him.”
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Original article from TakePart