John Ball Zoo’s New Eagle Named After Beloved Educator & Zoo Member
Back on June 23rd, the John Ball Zoo took in a new bald eagle that had been at Wings Of Wonder Raptor Sanctuary with a permanent wing injury. They just announced via Facebook, they’ve figured out the perfect name for the new eagle which will also honor someone who was close to the JBZ family.
The three-year-old bald eagle was named "Ruth" after Ruth Jones-Hairston, who passed away last June, but had a big impact on the Grand Rapids community both as a teacher and principal for GRPS as well as a board member for the John Ball Zoo.
Ruth’s mission as an educator was to make sure "each child knew they were important and could succeed", JBZ wrote in their Facebook post announcing the eagle’s new name. They also say that as a part of the Zoo Board, she helped inspire and found the JBZ’s JUMP program that helps children and families of all income levels be able to enjoy the Zoo. Zoo officials say that hundreds of thousands of families have enjoyed the John Ball Zoo because of Ruth’s dedication and vision to the JUMP Program.
In the Facebook post, they shared how excited Ruth’s daughter was at the honor fo the new eagle is named after her mom,
“What an honor. Our mother represents everything that the eagle symbolizes and more! It is touching to know that her life, her beliefs, her "walk", touched the lives of so many including the staff and community of John Ball Zoo so much so that they would want to honor her this way. We can't wait to visit Ruth the eagle as a family at the Zoo."
What an honor for the young eagle to be named after such a remarkable person. Ruth, the eagle, is still a juvenile and will, in the next few years molt into her adult feathers. The reason she wasn’t released into the Wild after rehabilitation is that the damage to her wing (by another bald eagle) means that she has one wing that has to work a lot harder to fly, which would have left her vulnerable in the wild.
The Zoo says that Ruth is in her new habitat with Bea, the zoo’s other bald eagle, near the aquarium and you can see her next time you visit.