Department Of Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact: Hugh Vickery
For Imediate Release: April 30 2003

Norton Helps Inaugurate "Bald Eagle Refuge" at National Zoo to Celebrate National Wildlife Refuge System Centennial

(WASHINGTON) - Secretary of Interior Gale Norton and National Zoo Director Lucy Spelman today joined a dozen volunteers to plant trees and shrubs as part of creating the "Bald Eagle Refuge," a new home for eagles at the National Zoo.
The new exhibit, which will house two rescued bald eagles when it opens later this summer, is a joint project of the Interior Department's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Zoo as part of the year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
In recognition of National Volunteer Week, Norton and Spelman also highlighted the important role volunteers play both at zoos and on public lands, including the nation's 540 refuges.
"This exhibit will offer visitors a close-up view of our national symbol, the bald eagle, while introducing them to the National Wildlife Refuge System," Norton said. "It also demonstrates the importance of the millions of volunteers who offer their time and labor at our refuges and other public lands and historic sites."
Earlier in the month, Norton unveiled the "Take Pride in America" program, a national partnership to empower volunteers from every corner of America to improve parks, refuges, recreation areas and cultural and historical sites on federal, state and local lands. The program will inspire citizen stewardship through a bold and innovative communication campaign and honor outstanding volunteer efforts with presidential recognition.
"There is a place for virtually every American in this program," Norton said. "Many states, county and municipal governments, and service organizations have signed on as formal Take Pride partners. They will play a vital role in rallying volunteers for projects and programs to clean up and safeguard parks, cultural and scenic areas."
The volunteers at the event included people who offer their time at refuges, aquariums, and the National Zoo through the Fish and Wildlife Service, Friends of the National Zoo and the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.
Together with Norton and Spelman, they planted trees and shrubs native to the Washington, D.C. region. The new hollies, laurels, rhododendrons, and other plants will join the oaks, beeches, and poplars of the surrounding woodlands to provide a natural habitat for bald eagles.
When the exhibit opens to the public on the fourth of July, two bald eagles from the American Eagle Foundation in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., will make the zoo their new home. The eagles had been discovered injured in the wild and were nursed back to health by wildlife rehabilitators.

Otherwise healthy, the eagles' injuries have left them without the ability to fly or survive in nature. When the exhibit opens, the National Zoo will assume the responsibility for the birds' care, and these distinctive white-headed raptors will join other animal species native to North America on the Zoo's North America Trail.
The National Wildlife Refuge System was created in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt to preserve our natural resources. Like the National Zoo, national wildlife refuges offer spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities and educate thousands of children and adults each year about wildlife. But national wildlife refuges are also places to enjoy outdoor pursuits like fishing, photography, hunting, and hiking. There are refuges in every state and one within an hour's drive of most major cities.


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