Davao City—Sinag – a Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) which hatched in captivity and adopted by flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) turned two years old last December 7.
The airline executives discovered that Sinag has grown healthy and robust, with a distinct personality of its own, according to Lohwana Halaq, a Filipino-Canadian animal keeper who decided to stay after doing internship at the Center.
An eagle, that’s a candidate for artificial insemination, will interact with only one human throughout its stay at the Center.
Although Sinag’s current size already impressed its visitors, Lohwana says Sinag is still three to four years before full maturity. “Young eagles have clean, white wing feathers. When they mature, those feathers take on dark brown color,” Lohwana explains.
Sinag feeding on rabbit meat – sometimes shrieking – delighted its visitors, as if Sinag wanted to put on a show for its benefactor.
In January 2016, when Sinag was just more than a month old, PAL adopted the 26th eaglet hatched at the Center. PAL donated one million miles that Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) officials and staff can exchange for PAL tickets for their official travels towards protecting and preserving the country’s national bird.
PAL employees got endeared to the eaglet when news of the adoption broke out. The name Sinag was chosen among entries in an internal name-that-bird contest.
Today, from a mere 122-gram weight at birth, Sinag is close to being majestic, like Pag-asa, the first eagle hatched in captivity 25 years ago, and still a crowd-drawer at the Center.
Staff at the 8.4-hectare Center, situated at the foot of Mount Apo, work hard at encouraging the 33 eagles to go through the captive breeding program (a painstakingly long process that includes months or even years of courtship) to help address the dwindling number of Philippine eagles throughout the country which stands around 400 pairs due to hunting and deforestation.
Without generous corporate and individual sponsors, the PEF can only rely on meagre revenues from entrance fees of visitors and sales from the souvenir shop to sustain the advocacy.
Fortunately, PAL has joined the growing list of concerned Filipinos who now appreciate the valuable work at the Center.