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Hattiesburg Zoo Welcomes Second Golden Eagle

Hattiesburg Zoo Welcomes Second Golden Eagle; Seeks Public’s Help in Naming

Less than three months after unveiling a new golden eagle exhibit, complete with a golden eagle named Nugget, the Hattiesburg Zoo is now home to a second golden eagle on loan from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.

This new male golden eagle weighs just over eight pounds and came to Hattiesburg from the same rehab facility in Ojai, Calif., as Nugget. He suffered a serious injury to his right wing earlier in his life and is now unable to fly. He will join Nugget on display at the Hattiesburg Zoo inside the newly constructed golden eagle exhibit, which is sponsored by the Southern Miss Alumni Association, the USM Foundation and the Student Government Association.

The public is invited to participate in naming this new golden eagle. Beginning on February 1 and continuing through February 7, the public may submit names by visiting and clicking the link or tweeting their favorite suggestion on Twitter using #NameHattiesBird. On February 10, a final selection of names will be available on the website for public voting, and the winning name of the golden eagle will be announced at the USM vs. UTEP basketball game on February 22.

“The Southern Miss Alumni Association is proud to be a part of such an impressive and educational exhibit inside the Hattiesburg Zoo,” said Jerry DeFatta, Executive Director of the Southern Miss Alumni Association. “We could not be more excited for Nugget to be welcoming a friend to his exhibit, and we strongly encourage the Southern Miss community to contribute to this naming contest. It is certainly a golden opportunity for Southern Miss alumni, students and fans to be a part of such an exciting development for the Zoo and the entire Hattiesburg area.”

An effort to bring Nugget to Hattiesburg was initiated by the Southern Miss Alumni Association more than two years ago and was supported by the Student Government Association and USM Foundation. Together, the groups contributed $70,000 to fund the construction of a golden eagle habitat at the Zoo. Prior to receiving Nugget, the Zoo completed a rigorous application process through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services that included two Hattiesburg Zoo zookeepers undergoing 300 hours of intensive training each at the Southeastern Raptor Rehabilitation Center at Auburn University.

“The process to receive Nugget from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services was well worth it to have such a beautiful bird and exhibit,” said Katie Barry, Animal Curator at the Hattiesburg Zoo. “It is quite an honor for the Zoo to receive one golden eagle, but to be the home of two golden eagles speaks volumes about the quality of the golden eagle exhibit, the support we receive from the University community, as well as, the confidence that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services has in our staff. We are excited to welcome Nugget’s new friend.”

Following the USM Basketball game on February 22, Southern Miss fans may bring their basketball game ticket stub to the Zoo on Sunday, February 23 for $1 off admission.

Golden eagles are protected through the U.S. Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Only injured golden or bald eagles that cannot be released back into the wild and have limited ability to fly are kept in captivity in the U.S.

The lifespan of the golden eagle is approximately 30 years, and their native range is Mexico, Western North America, Alaska, Northern Africa, Europe and Asia. The bird’s wingspan can range from six to seven feet, and the grip of their three-inch talons is equal to that of a lion’s jaw pressure.

The Hattiesburg Zoo is a Hattiesburg Convention Commission Facility, in partnership with the City of Hattiesburg and the Hattiesburg Tourism Commission. Since 1991, the Hattiesburg Convention Commission has been developing and operating tourism-related facilities for the Hattiesburg area. For more information, visit or contact us at 601.545.4576.