A great soul died this week, the keystone bald eagle of the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Given the name “Leuc” after his Latinized Greek name — Haliaeetus leucocephalus — he was the physical and behavioral model of his species. He was 35 years old and was a living symbol of the Raptor Center, an institution of which all Minnesotans should be proud.

It is enough to say that he helped educate millions of adults and children about the critical importance of raptors in our shared ecosystem.

It must also be said that he was tenacious, funny and so tolerant of the human presence. Surviving a car strike at an early age that compromised his ability to fly, he later prevailed after a fibrosarcoma in his flexor tendon threatened his life.

So whoever you are and whatever role wild birds play in your lives, remember there was one who was the epitome of his species and genus, an eagle who literally gave his life to humans, just as the fine professionals at the Raptor Center gave to him.

The world will rage on with its scandals, conspiracies and violence. Despite it all, there are creatures who, in life and death, must give us pause.

Leuc was one.

Neil Ross, Minnetonka


The writer is a Raptor Center volunteer.