She was a
golden eagle. She honored me with her friendship and enriched my life with
her presence and affectionate nature.
Goldie was about 30 years old when I first met her, and intimidating to a new volunteer first venturing into her cage. At first I saw only her fierce beauty, but she soon revealed a curiosity, quiet dignity, I grew to love her for those qualifies and many others. I like to think she loved me, too.
I never walked into the Center without stopping to talk with Goldie. Early morning opening was a special ritual for me and Goldie's other friends. Every Sunday when I unlocked the front gate, she would begin to call even before she saw me. I would call back in her tongue and mine. As I walked towards her, she would continue to greet me with her soft calls, spreading her wings and moving closer along her perch. She was a great lady who imbued the entire center with her majestic presence.
Crippled by rickets, Goldie's body never flew like an eagle. But I believe that her mind and spirit often soared. Many times, I would watch Goldie's beautiful head lift and her magnificent golden eyes scan the distant heavens. I knew she was far from me, powerful wings spread, golden in the sun.
Goldie accepted us humans, granting tolerance to some and friendship to others. Through her, I was given insight into the courage and spirit of a fellow being who just happened to be a golden eagle. For that gift I will always be grateful. Goldie's physical presence is gone and I miss her. Her spirit is flying free on wings of pure light and my heart rejoices for her. She will forever be a part of all those who knew her.
What a lucky person I am. I had a golden eagle for a friend -- and I always will.
Note: Goldie was found as a chick, fallen from her nest, by a Utah park ranger. Fed an improper diet, her bones didn't develop properly. She came to the California Center for Wildlife (then the Louise M. Boyd Natural History Museum) in San Rafael when she was almost 2 years old. Attempts were made to teach her to fly, but she could never fly well enough to be released. She died on April 18, 1993 of heart failure. She was 37 years old. For weeks her cage was filled with flowers and decked with written tributes. A memorial service was attended by nearly 30 people.