Challenger (eagle)

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Challenger takes flight during the Bald Eagle Recovery and Final Delisting ceremony held at the Jefferson Memorial, June 28, 2007, as Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne (right) stands with his hand over his heart.

Challenger is a non-releasable bald eagle in the care of the non-profit American Eagle Foundation. He is the first bald eagle in history trained to free fly into major sporting events during the national anthem.[1]


In a storm in 1989, Challenger was blown from his nest as an eaglet and hand raised by humans. During his early years, he experienced too much human contact and imprinted on his human handlers. Two unsuccessful release attempts resulted in Challenger almost dying and eventually being handed over to the Federal authorities. Authorities have since given Challenger to the American Eagle Foundation for care and educational programs. Challenger is named in honor of the space shuttle crew, who were killed when it disintegrated shortly after launch. No future attempts to release Challenger will be made because, unfortunately, he thinks he's a human.


Challenger has been an ambassador for his species since 1993. He has raised a great level of public awareness for the habitat destruction of the bald eagle. Since he is so widely recognized, Challenger is noted as a large factor in the bald eagle being taken off the Endangered Species List.[citation needed]


Sports events[edit]

  • MLB World Series - 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
  • NFL Pro Bowl - 2002, 2003, 2004
  • Fiesta Bowl - 1999, 2013
  • Men's Final Four - 2005
  • NCAA College Football National Championship - 2011, 2017
  • Daytona 500 - 2015
  • Army-Tulane Football Game - 2015
  • Arizona Cardinals-San Francisco 49ers Football Game - 2016


[clarification needed]

Individual events[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Moore, Roger (November 3, 2007). "How much can one football fanbase take?". Stillwater News Press. Archived from the original on 2007-11-06. Retrieved 2007-11-03. 
  2. ^ "Defense Department Helps Eagle Soar Off Endangered List". United States of America. June 28, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-14. 

External links[edit]