Bearizona, a popular drive- and walk-through wildlife park devoted to providing homes to wild animals in need, is introducing its first bald eagle on Veterans Day. He was named Vernon by the winner of the company’s recent naming contest that reached over 30,000 animal lovers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and was shared 124 times in just 24 hours.
The contest called for all Bearizona fans and supporters to submit a name appropriate for such an incredible animal that represents the strength and freedom of America ahead of the national Veterans Day holiday. The winning name was chosen out of 850 fan entries and honors George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. Vernon is especially fitting since the first president of the United States and Bearizona’s first bald eagle were both from the great state of Virginia.
After he was seen fighting with another eagle in what was likely a territorial dispute and suffered injuries affecting his ability to fly, Vernon was rescued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department and made his way to multiple facilities over the last decade before finding his forever home at the Bearizona Wildlife Park, where he will have the space and care he needs to thrive.
“He’s very shy, but he loosens up after a few fish,” said Susan Davidson, founder of High Country Raptors. “The staff continues to learn more about him and his likes and dislikes every day, and we are doing our very best to keep Vernon feeling as comfortable and safe as possible in his new home.”
Visitors will be able to visit Vernon for the first time, along with the rest of the Bearizona residents, on Veterans Day, this Monday, Nov. 11. Free admission will be offered to all individuals currently serving in or who have honorably served in the U.S. military.
“Eagles are becoming more common here in Virginia and I see them a couple of times a month. My heart still jumps in excitement when I see one,” says contest winner, Laurinda Bowling of Bland, Virginia. According to Savannah Carleton, a second contest winner who chose the name Vernon, “Since the bald eagle is from Virginia, it seemed perfect for his name to be Vernon. But when I saw someone else had suggested it, I just decided to ‘second’ their vote. It’s always fun to participate and vote when an Arizona park gets a new member and the community gets a voice in the process.”