The Philippine Eagle Foundation offered an explanation on why it uses puppet to feed an eagle in a viral video.
The video clip showed how a baby eagle named “Chick 29” was being fed.
“Chick 29 at one week old enjoying a meal with the help of an eagle hand puppet. We used puppet rearing to keep Chick 29 from getting used to human presence,” PEF said.
“Limited human contact can help ensure a successful natural pairing with another eagle. But not anytime soon as Chick 29 is still living the life as the PEC’s bunso!” it added.
The Davao-based organization released the video on Facebook on January 17.
It had since earned 12,000 reactions, 682 comments and 728,000 views on the platform.
The puppet hand was designed by a US-based artist named Jennifer Miller.
Miller shared on Facebook via her page the Featherdust Studio that she sent PEF the accessory a few years ago.
She also thanked the PEF keepers for their efforts to conserve Philippine eagles.
“Here is a video of the Philippine Eagle Foundation feeding their newest chick with the puppet I sent them a few years ago! I wish success to this precious baby eagle and thank all of the keepers for their time and dedication to saving this beautiful species from the brink of extinction,” Miller said.
“If you have a moment, make sure to visit their page to see all the wonderful work they are doing!” she added.
How social media reacted
The video later reached Facebook and Twitter after local media outlets picked it up.
It was also posted on a Reddit forum called r/HumansBeingBros with at least 3.1 million members.
The was later shared on r/Philippines and gathered over 1,300 upvotes.
Most social media users were endeared by the video of Chick 29. They also praised the keepers and expressed hope that Chick 29 will grow up safe and healthy.
“How can I sign up for this? I am glad that they show a replica of an adult Eagle’s head the whole time when feeding that adorable little chick,” one user said.
“Oh my, very serious procedure, dinner time. And you are wearing eagle costume. Pure love and concern for Philippine Eagle. Salamat po sa inyo,” another user wrote.
Amid these positive reactions, some were initially confused and creeped out by the eagle hand puppet.
“Pretty cool. Kinda creepy. But still cool. We’re rooting for you, #29! Grow up strong!” one user said.
Twitter user @ErronHern noted that the process is called “bird imprinting.”
He also offered an explanation that was similar to PEF’s post.
“Bird chicks will depend on whoever they would see on their first days and weeks after hatching so being accustomed to humans becomes a problem if they’re supposed to live independently in the wild,” the Twitter user said.
According to Biology Online, an online science hub, imprinting in animals is the process or experience wherein a newborn follows another animal that it recognizes.
“For example, after birth or hatching, the newborn follows another animal that it recognizes or marks as its mother (filial imprinting). Another example is when a young goose after hatching can follow its future mating partner and when mature it will start to mate with its imprinted partner (sexual imprinting),” the website said.