An eagle shocked onlookers when it tried to fly off with a young boy during a bird show in central Australia. The incident occurred last week at Alice Springs Desert Park.
The wedge-tailed eagle, which is Australia's largest bird of prey, flew from about 15 metres away and attempted to pick up the boy, a witness told BBC. The young victim is believed to be between six and eight years old.
Witness Keenan Lucas told NT News that the eagle came out as part of the show's finale.
"The bird then flew over the crowd and tried to grab on to a young boy's head," Lucas said. "He screamed, the mother was distraught, and the presenters wrapped up the show very quickly. It looked as if the bird tried to pick him up like a small animal and take off with him."
Witnesses believe the eagle may have been confused or provoked by the boy's attire. Lucas said the boy was wearing a camouflage hoodie that was zipped up to cover his face.
Another witness, Christine O'Connell, said the boy "kept pulling his zipper up and down."
"For some reason the Wedge Tailed Eagle did not like it," she wrote on Instagram, alongside a photo she took of the attack. "Instead of flying over to the log he is meant to for a photo opportunity he flew straight at the young boy and attacked him."
Luckily, the boy did not suffer any serious injuries; however, he did receive a "superficial" gash to his face.
Following the incident, the park released a statement, saying: "An eagle made contact with an audience member. A thorough investigation regarding the circumstances behind this incident is under way and the eagle will be removed from the show while this investigation is ongoing."
While witnesses have their own theories about the attack, Animal Science Professor John Parks, of New York's Cornell University, said the eagle might have been hunting.
"Instinctively they are carnivorous animals that are looking for something to eat, or defending themselves from something that may be a threat," he told National Geographic. "That’s just the nature of the beast."
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