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About the American Eagle Foundation


Since 1985, AEF has educated millions of people throughout the United States on conservation of the eagle and all birds of prey. In 1990, the AEF entered into a multi-year corporate partnership with the Dollywood Company and cooperated with them to develop Eagle Mountain Sanctuary at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Eagle Mountain Sanctuary is the largest gathering of non-releasable bald eagles found in the world.

Today, the AEF has grown into an internationally recognized conservation organization.

American Eagle Foundation stalwartly supports the conservation of birds of prey. American Eagle Day (June 20) is a special day to commemorate the anniversary of the Bald Eagle’s selection as our National Symbol and to celebrate its return to America’s skies. With proclamations issued by governors in 49 states, American Eagle Day invites the nation to participate in cleaning up the nation’s waterways to help conserve eagles and all wildlife. 

AEF also participates in International Vulture Awareness Day to help counter the ongoing vulture crisis. In 2019, they successfully raised funds to support vulture restaurant initiatives in Nepal.

As of 2022, American Eagle Foundation is a full-service rehabilitation program for birds of prey. They offer rehab and release programs as well as housing and care for permanently disabled birds. American Eagle Foundation’s newly renovated headquarters are home to approximately 65 non-releasable birds of prey including eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, and vultures. AEF’s presence in Dollywood helps further the foundation’s educational mission through the Wings of America bird show.

From 2000 through 2022, the American Eagle Foundation has released 180 captive-hatched and/or orphaned bald eaglets from its artificial nesting tower located on Douglas Lake in Dandridge, Tennessee. The American Eagle Foundation has participated in the release of hundreds of other birds of prey in other locations in cooperation with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The American Eagle Foundation is well known for using some of the eagles in its care to perform free-flights during the “Star-Spangled Banner”. Since 1991, AEF eagles have performed over 8,000 free flights ranging from venues such as school gyms, all the way to Super Bowl and World Series games. Named in honor of the lost space shuttle crew, Challenger has performed free-flights at hundreds of events. At the age of 30, Challenger has retired from free-flights, enabling the AEF to shift their focus to more intimate educational programs.

To learn more about AEF, please visit