Bald eagle surprised fliers at North Carolina’s Charlotte airport
(CNN) — Turns out eagles have to fly commercial sometimes, too.
Passengers at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina had an unexpected interruption to the tedium of the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint when a bald eagle, perched on its handler’s arm, spread its wings in the security line on Thursday.
The unique passenger is a bird named Clark, part of the World Bird Sanctuary, according to a tweet from TSA Southeast.
“His airline notified us and we screened him and his handler,” wrote the agency. “Clark is trained to spread his wings, and even showed off a bit during screening.”
The agency also posted a video to Instagram of Clark showing off his impressive wingspan.
Clark returned to his travel carrier after passing through TSA, according to CNN affiliate WYFF.
High Point University, a Methodist university based in North Carolina, reported that Clark was returning home from a trip to their campus when he was spotted at TSA. He flew over the heads of 1,600 freshmen students at their convocation ceremony, the university wrote on Twitter.
The World Bird Sanctuary where Clark lives cares for over 200 animals outside of St. Louis, Missouri. It treats and rehabilitates injured birds in its wildlife hospital and also permanently hosts a number of non-releasable residents — like Clark.
Clark was born at the sanctuary as part of a program to release then-endangered bald eagles into the wild, according to the World Bird Sanctuary’s website.
But he was born with scale deformities on his feet that made him non-releasable, according to the sanctuary. So, instead he became one of the organization’s “flying ambassadors” and travels across the United States to fly at different events, like High Point’s convocation ceremony and professional baseball games.
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