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Franklin & Independence

Franklin and Independence

Franklin and Independence seem a perfect match due to their similar history alone. Both came from Alaska and had to be rehabilitated because of gunshot wounds to the left wing. Also, they were transferred to American Eagle Foundation (AEF) headquarters at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee during the month of May.

However, it was not until April 2000 that Franklin and Independence chose each other as mates. Once pair bonded, they were moved into their own separate breeding aviary, but did not lay any eggs during their first year together.

Then in April 2002, the pair laid their first two eggs and took turns incubating them. One of the eggs proved to be infertile, but  the other hatched on May 9. The baby was a healthy one, and Franklin and Independence proved to be good parents.The eaglet was raised and cared for by them for about eight weeks.

At about 12 weeks of age, the eaglet was released from an artificial nesting tower overlooking Douglas Lake in East Tennessee. At that time, it  had reached its adult size, but would not obtain the distinctive white head and tail until about five years of age.

This eaglet, like all the eaglets either hatched at the AEF birds of prey facility or that come from other facilities, has been released into the wilds of the Great Smoky Mountains area to help bring back the Bald Eagle to the Southeastern United States.

You can watch them in HD live streaming video.


IndyThe rehab facility in Alaska that took care of Independence had operated on her wing, but the wing tip never healed properly. As a result, she could not fly well enough to survive in the wild.

Independence arrived at American Eagle Foundation headquarters on May 28, 1994. At that time, her wounds were still fresh and an infection had set in. This condition required rehabilitation and recovery time to heal and get her strength back.

For the first two months, Independence was housed in a quarantine enclosure at the AEF's off-park bird care facility. Later, she was moved to the AEF’s “Eagle Mountain Sanctuary” aviary located on the Dollywood entertainment park. She now lives inside Eagle Mountain Sanctuary on the Dollywood park with Franklin.

FranklinFranklin was shot on April 2, 1995 in Seward, Alaska. His left wing tip was hit by the bullet, causing extensive damage. The wing tip had to be amputated, leaving him in a compromised condition flight-wise. Although Franklin is able to fly in his enclosure, he cannot fly well enough to survive in the wild.

Franklin arrived at American Eagle Foundation headquarters in Pigeon Forge, TN on May 23, 1995, a year after Independence. At first, Franklin lived with a group of other Bald Eagles housed in the AEF’s “Eagle Mountain Sanctuary” aviary located on the Dollywood entertainment park. He now resides at the off-park facility in a breeding aviary with Independence.

Both these birds live inside Eagle Mountain Sanctuary on the Dollywood park.


Independence (back) - Franklin (front)


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