Challenger was born in 1989 and turns 30 this yr. He lives on the American Eagle Foundation, located at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge.
For the past 25 years, Challenger has traveled coast to coast performing free-flight appearances and gloved appearances at national sporting events, conventions, conference, galas, fundraisers, schools and other occasions. He might be retiring this year.
Born in the Spring of 1989, Challenger was blown from a wild nest in Louisiana during a storm. He was rescued by people, who proceeded to hand-feed and raise him. Sadly, he experienced an excessive amount of human contact throughout his early years and have become dependent upon people for food.
Unable to be released into the wild, Challenger was transferred to the Audubon Zoo of New Orleans. The zookeepers tried to release him into the wild a number of times, however every time he ended up landing close to people to beg for food. Because of this, fish and wildlife agencies placed the eagle into the care of the American Eagle Foundation.
He was named Challenger in honor of the fallen crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
Challenger is the first Bald Eagle in U.S. history to be trained to free-fly in main sports stadiums, arenas and ballrooms during the National Anthem. He has performed over 350 free flight demonstrations over time and has his picture on a Tennessee specialty license plate.
Saturday’s show on the Lincoln Theater will feature James Rogers, the Marion Senior High School Chorus and the First United Methodist Church Children’s Choice performing Christmas songs and a tribute to the army. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and kids.