Bald eagle flees Palo Alto museum; search underway

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A search is underway for a bald eagle that disappeared from its home at a Peninsula museum. The eagle named Sequoia flew the coop at her home on Monday and hasn't been seen since.

Sequoia has lived at the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo for 27 years, and she has taken off in the past.

She's a beautiful bird that would go out for a flight three times a week, and except for on a few rare occasions, would always come back. Sequoia disappeared every few years, and the longest she has been gone is five days.

On Monday, she started flying at Bixby Park around 2:15 p.m., saw something that she started to chase, and vanished. Now there's an empty habitat at the zoo where everyone is worried about her. Museum officials say Sequoia wears a tracking device and that the last time they saw her signal, she was near Stanford University on Tuesday afternoon.

They just want to get her back as soon as possible, so she can be properly cared for.

"She was originally found shot in the wild, and has a paralyzed tail. So, the gunshot wound damaged her hip. And she can't use her tail. And that means even though she can fly, she cannot manipulate well enough to catch prey, and also in stiff wind, she has a hard time stabilizing herself," explains museum director John Aikin.

Sequoia is used by the zoo as a goodwill ambassador to meet people and help teach them about bald eagles.

Aikin told KTVU they have been picking up a faint signal that could be the eagle north of Palo Alto. And that on Friday, they might go up in a plane to see if they can track her down.

Using a receiver, handler John Flynn was high atop a parking garage in Redwood City Wednesday night scouring the sky for any sign of Sequoia. 

"I feel like a worried parent right now," said Aikin. "She's lost and I don't know where she is until I have some sense of where she is I'm going to be worried," said Aikin. "I'm worried about collision with automobiles, wild eagles coming and chasing her, her getting an altercation with other wild animals."

Sequoia's handlers hope to lure her back with a whistle and mice. Given her track record, they're optimistic she'll return.

Anyone who spots Sequoia now is asked to call the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo.