Eagles, exotic birds from Dollywood are 'safe and sound' - WSMV Channel 4

Eagles, exotic birds from Dollywood are 'safe and sound'

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PIGEON FORGE, TN (WSMV) -

Officials with the American Eagle Foundation of Dollywood say eagles and other exotic birds from the Pigeon Forge-based bird sanctuary are "safe and sound" some in staff members' homes. 

Seventy to 80 birds of prey from the Eagle Mountain Sanctuary, including 40 eagles and raptors and 40 to 50 pounds of raptor food, were rescued Tuesday morning, according to officials there.

The foundation works closely with Dollywood and helps maintain its bird habitat.

"We had to remove and relocate all 80 birds just to make sure they weren't inhaling smoke," said Al Cecere, president of the American Eagle Foundation.. "Some of our eagle foundation staff took some of the birds home, the first 50 birds. But when they removed the 20 bald eagles from Dollywood Park, those went to the convention center." 

Cecere was at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday night, along with an eagle named Challenger, for the Charlie Daniels 80th Birthday Volunteer Jam, an annual event which honors veterans and wounded warriors. 

Cecere says Challenger is the first eagle in history trained to free fly in stadiums. The bird flew around Bridgestone during the "Star-Spangled Banner" to rousing applause from the crowd.

Cecere says the rescued eagles will stay in the convention center in Pigeon Forge until officials feel it's safe to go back.

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