Bald eagles, America's national symbol, are a "threatened" species in 48 states, according to the foundation — with humans encroaching on its habitat. Since 1985, the foundation has been working to protect the species and develop recovery programs.
Flying in stadiums since 1991
Challenger, a 25-year-old bald eagle, has been serving as a free-flying educational ambassador since 1991.
Two years earlier, strong winds during a storm blew Challenger out of his nest in the wild. Some people found the eagle and attempted to raise him, causing Challenger to have too much contact with humans and unable to survive in the wild.
After two unsuccessful attempts to release him into the wild, federal and state fish and wildlife agencies handed Challenger over to the foundation.
The foundation trained him to free-fly in sports stadiums and during other ceremonies, like the Paralympic Games opening ceremony. Since 1991, Challenger has flown at hundreds of presentations, including having a guest spot on The David Letterman Show.