AUGUST 29, 2022
- A bald eagle named Clark went viral on social media after he was spotted at a security checkpoint.
- The bird passed through security at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, according to TSA Southeast.
On Monday, a bald eagle named Clark was seen traveling home after making a special appearance at High Point University’s convocation Sunday in North Carolina.
—Elijah Burke (@ElijahWhosoever) August 22, 2022
Clark was bred at the World Bird Sanctuary in Missouri 20 years ago in the conservation department, according to the organization’s website. He was initially supposed to be released into the wild, as the species was endangered at the time, the website states, and due to Clark’s feet deformities, he wasn’t able to join his siblings in the wild.
“Clark’s feet would not be properly protected from the cold during the winter, and he would suffer from things like frostbite and loss of toes,” the organization states.
High Point University tweeted its support of Clark after some users questioned why he was allowed to enter the TSA checkpoint.
—HighPointUniversity (@HighPointU) August 25, 2022
“He flew over the heads of our largest freshman class this past Sunday at Convocation, our official welcome ceremony for the newest HPU class, symbolizing the beginning of their HPU experience,” a cheeky tweet by the university read.
Since he lives in captivity, Clark is one of the sanctuary’s flying ambassadors, trained for special appearances and events, according to the World Bird Sanctuary.
Clark’s impressive resume, listed on the World Bird Sanctuary’s website, includes flying overhead at the St. Louis Cardinals baseball games during the national anthem and making appearances at Chicago Bears football games. For anywhere from $29-$129, Clark can be rented for any and all types of events, according to the website.
TSA regional spokesperson Mark Howell shared photos of Clark on the official TSA Southeast region Twitter page Wednesday. “TSA officers are used to seeing an eagle on their uniform as they look over their shoulder, but I’m sure the team at @CLTAirport Checkpoint A did a double take when they saw a real one earlier this week,” Howell wrote.
—TSA Southeast (@TSA_Southeast) August 25, 2022
Southwest Airlines spokesperson Tiffany Valdez told The Washington Post the company works with animal organizations on a “case-by-case basis” to make special exceptions and allow certain animals to fly to travel.
TSA and Southwest Airlines did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.