Tennessee Eagles Go to Washington’s National Zoo
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 23, 2003
American Eagle Foundation (headquartered at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee) staff members traveled to Washington, D.C. today to deliver two Bald Eagles to the Smithsonian National Zoo that will be housed in a new Bald Eagle Refuge exhibit opening on July 4th.
Full text of Press Release:
PIGEON FORGE, TN – June 23, 2003
The American Eagle Foundation’s work to raise public awareness and preserve the nation’s freedom symbol will again reach into the heart of Washington, D.C. The non-profit eagle preservation organization, headquartered at the Dollywood entertainment park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, are donating two non-releasable Bald Eagles named Sam and Tioga to a new Bald Eagle Refuge exhibit that will open on July 4th at the Smithsonian National Zoo. The birds were taken to Washington by Foundation staff early today.
“It’s a great honor to give these magnificent birds a special home in our nation’s capitol where they can symbolically represent America to millions of visitors from around the world,” said Al Cecere, President of the American Eagle Foundation. “These impressive national birds will serve as important high-profile educational ambassadors.”
The new eagle exhibit is scheduled to be dedicated at a media ceremony on July 2, 2003 led by Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, National Zoo Director Lucy Spelman, Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Steve Williams, members of Congress and various conservation leaders. Singer/actress Dolly Parton and American Eagle Foundation President Al Cecere plan to attend.
The flightless eagles were rescued from the wild, and are non-releasable due to permanent wing disabilities. They were recently removed from the Foundation’s Eagle Mountain Sanctuary aviary at Dollywood where the pair has been on display to the park’s guests for a number of years. The birds were given physical check-ups by local veterinarians Dr. Mike Jones, Dr. Dinny Ryan and Dr. Kimba Marshall before being moved from Tennessee.
The grand opening of the new Bald Eagle Refuge at the Smithsonian National Zoo on July 4th will celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It will offer a close-up view of the American Bald Eagle while educating visitors, especially children, about the importance of national wildlife refuge eco-systems.
Zookeepers at the National Zoo will introduce the two rescued Bald Eagles into their exhibit habitat this week so they can become acclimated to their new home. Housed in a natural setting surrounded by nearly invisible netting, the Bald Eagles will be easily seen by visitors from an observation blind at the edge of the aviary. The exhibit will be located in the heart of the National Zoo on Valley Trail, which features great North American wildlife, including wolves and otters.
The National Zoological Park is a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex. The Smithsonian includes 16 museums and galleries, in addition to the National Zoo. The National Zoo is a 163-acre zoological park in the heart of Washington D.C. Open to the public 364 days a year, it is home to about 3,100 individual animals of 435 different species. Its mission is to celebrate, study, and protect wild animals and their habitats.
The National Wildlife Refuge System was created in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt to protect our natural resources. Like the National Zoo, national wildlife refuges offer spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities and educate thousands of children and adults each year about wildlife. But national wildlife refuges are also places to enjoy outdoor pursuits like fishing, photography, hunting, and hiking. There are refuges in every State and one within an hour’s drive of most major cities.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 541 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.