Back in 2005, an adult female bald eagle was found starving and struggling to feed herself at a landfill site in Alaska. Her story was told recently on the Guardian Science website and provides an inspiring example of how technology can have a positive impact.
Shot by a poacher, Beauty lost most of the upper mandible of her beak and wasn't expected to survive. A team of volunteers Birds of Prey Northwest in Idaho nursed her back to health but the prevailing expert opinion was that she should be put down.
However, raptor expert Jane Fink Cantwell refused to accept defeat and joined forces with engineer Nate Calvin from the Kinetic Engineering Group. Calvin made a mould of the remains of Beauty's upper mandible, laser scanned it and used 3D modelling software to create a prosthetic beak from a nylon-based polymer.
Beauty can now feed and groom herself, although the prosthetic is not strong enough for her to be released back into the wild. Until a way can be found to securely anchor the prosthetic beak, Beauty will remain under the care of Birds of Prey Northwest but with a much better quality of life than she had before.
Watch the video of Beauty's incredible story below:
by Anthony Morgan