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.
In a storm in 1989, Challenger was blown from his nest as an eaglet and hand raised by humans. During this time, he experienced too much human contact and was "imprinted". He believes he is a human and is unable to survive in the wild. Two unsuccessful release attempts resulted in Challenger almost dying and eventually being handed over to the Federal authorities. They gave 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 exploded on January 28, 1986.
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.