Metro

Bald eagle that enjoyed viral fame thanks to Methuen doughnut shop euthanized

A bald eagle held up customers at a doughnut shop in Methuen this week. The bird had a broken wing that could not be fixed and was later euthanized.

JRM Photography

A bald eagle held up customers at a doughnut shop in Methuen this week. The bird had a broken wing that could not be fixed and was later euthanized.

A bald eagle that enjoyed a few moments of Internet fame this week after a photo went viral showing it blocking a doughnut shop’s drive-through had to be euthanized by veterinarians because of an injury that couldn’t be fixed.

On Monday, Heav’nly Donuts, in Methuen, shared an image of the bird perched on the curb near where customers order food and coffee.

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In the photograph, which was taken by John R. McCarthy, of JRM Photography, the eagle is seen staring quizzically at the smorgasbord of food items and specialty coffee drinks. Heav’nly Donuts posted a tongue-in-cheek message accompanying the picture.

“Sorry for the long line at drive thru this afternoon!” the company wrote. “This bald eagle couldn’t decide which donut he wanted!”

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The post to the doughnut chain’s social media page was shared more than 7,000 times and garnered more than 600 comments. It also received more than 6,000 Facebook reactions ranging from surprised to amused.

But the tale of the bird that briefly captured the hearts of Methuen, and residents around the state, ended badly.

According to a Taraneh Pettinato, a spokeswoman for Tufts Wildlife Clinic at Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, the eagle was transported from Methuen to the animal hospital Monday by the Massachusetts Environmental Police.

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Pettinato said in an e-mail to the Globe that the bird was severely emaciated and had a broken wing that didn’t heal properly, leaving it flightless.

Florina Tseng, director of the clinic, said in a statement that the fracture was beyond repair. After a careful assessment, veterinarians decided to euthanize the bird.

“We had concerns about the chronic pain it would cause the bird,” Tseng said. “Our goal is always to treat and release, but given the condition of the bird upon arrival, this sadly was not possible.”

Upon hearing the news of the eagle’s death, people who had been bemused by its presence at a doughnut store’s drive-through window mourned the loss of a majestic bird.

“At least he passed with loving caretakers surrounding him,” one person wrote.

Bald eagles have been known to live and hunt along the Merrimack River , which borders Methuen.

In April, with the help of volunteers, state wildlife officials conducted a statewide bald eagle nesting survey, checking known nests and documenting new eagle nesting locations, according to the department’s website. At the time of the survey, officials said the count was encouraging, as workers observed a growing population of eagles.

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.
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