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Violet the Hawk Dies After Surgery

By Andrea Swalec | December 29, 2011 5:51pm
Violet the Hawk rests as she awaits diagnosis of her badly infected foot.
Violet the Hawk rests as she awaits diagnosis of her badly infected foot.
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Cathy Horvath

MANHATTAN — Raptor matriarch Violet the Hawk, who lived in Washington Square Park for years and who was recently removed for injuries to her leg, has died of an apparent heart attack following surgery, wildlife rehabilitators said Thursday.

Violet underwent surgery Thursday in a desperate bid to mend her broken right leg, which became infected and badly swollen, said wildlife rehabilitator Cathy Horvath, who has been housing Violet at her nonprofit Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation in Long Island.

The surgery, which was conducted by a veterinarian who Horvath would not name, ended at 3 p.m. Thursday, and Violet went into apparent cardiac arrest soon after, Horvath said. She said the vet did CPR on Violet for about 20 minutes before the hawk passed.

A close-up of Violet the Hawk's badly infected foot.
A close-up of Violet the Hawk's badly infected foot.
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Cathy Horvath

"She woke up from anesthesia and seemed to be doing really well, but then she must have had a heart attack," a tearful Horvath told DNAinfo.com Thursday.

"I guess her body was under such distress," Horvath said. "She just couldn't hold on any more."

Horvath said that it remains unclear whether or not a necropsy will be performed on Violet's body.

The hawk's plight caught the public's attention this past spring when her nesting activities and then her injuries were captured on live streaming video.

Violet's nest-building made her the star of nytnestcam, a streaming video feed shot outside the office of NYU's president. Her injuries were first spotted in May after her baby, Pip, hatched.

Horvath and her husband, Robert, captured Violet in Washington Square Park on Christmas Eve in order to bring her in for treatment for her necrotic right leg. They suspect that the infection was probably the result of an animal bite, causing swelling that pushed a monitoring band up her leg, ultimately worsening the swelling.

The Horvaths said Monday that Violet was "doing well" after treatments.

Horvath said she is not sure yet what ceremonies will be held for the popular hawk, who was between 5 and 6 years old.

"I would like to have her cremated," she said. "We're not sure about any kind of ceremony yet or where she would be buried.

"We're just really sad. Everybody loved her."

Devastated Violet fans flocked to WINORR's Facebook page to offer their condolences.

"Thank you for all you did for our precious, precious Violet," Cheryl Ann Kingston wrote. "I am grateful that she knew your loving kindness and tender care before she 'Crossed the Rainbow Bridge.' I believe she is soaring high above the heavenly choir as I write this."

Facebook user MarthaAnn Madigan wrote, "God will take care of you now sweet girl."

"You had such good spirt and are such a beautiful Red Tail. You were such a good mom to Pip you made us all fall in love with you," she added.