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Eagle Passage opens at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park

New exhibit gives guests a bird’s eye view of bald eagles

The new Eagle Passage exhibit at the Northwest Trek Wildlife Park gives visitors unobstructed views of bald eagles. Photo credit: Marguerite Cleveland

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Eagle Passage, a walk-through forested habitat for bald eagles, recently opened at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park and makes for a perfect day trip for military families. It is the new home for four bald eagles who suffered injuries that prevent them from fully flying. Sucia, Salish, Sequoia and Cheveyo will all live in the unique habitat which centers on five Douglas firs close to the entrance of the park. The eagles' new home is surrounded by a black, protective mesh that keeps them safe while allowing for guests' unobstructed viewing of the birds. The exhibit also has interactive features which will appeal to children such as the life-sized graphic of a bald eagle's wingspan which guests can compare to their own arms, and a life-sized eagle's nest.

"We are opening one of the most exciting, interactive animal habitats in the history of Northwest Trek and showcasing America's symbol -- the bald eagle -- in a breathtaking way," said Aaron Pointer, president of the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners.

Bald eagles were plentiful across the United States, but hunting, destruction of their habitat and the pesticide DDT began to decrease their numbers. By 1963, only 417 nesting pairs were left in the lower 48 states. "The bald eagle story is one of everyday people making a difference. People saved this animal from extinction by making their voices heard resulting in the EPA banning DDT and the passage of the Endangered Species Act," said Jessica Moore, Northwest Trek Education Curator. "Bald eagles -- and this habitat -- show that together, our voices and actions can make a difference."

"Seeing a bald eagle is always special," said Alan Varsik, director of Zoological and Environmental Education division for Metro Parks Tacoma. "We want the bald eagle, its recovery story and message of hope to be a key experience at Northwest Trek. We believe this experience really highlights our conservation mission."

The exhibits are designed to help foster empathy for the wildlife. After you complete your walk through Eagle Passage, visitors will have the opportunity to identify different ways they can make a difference and make a pledge.

Another person who played an important role in developing the new habitat is Jake Pool, Northwest Trek horticulturalist. He is a master at sustainability. The cables attaching the outer mesh to the living trees utilize a special collar system which protects the Douglas fir trees. Pool also utilizes items from the park's Free-Roaming Area such as century-old fallen logs and western red cedar stumps. He salvages plants from local building sites and preserved the existing plants from the exhibit site.

The nonprofit Northwest Trek Foundation raised $500,000 to finance the exhibit's construction. The new exhibit is included in the park admission price. Northwest Trek Wildlife Park offers a military discount. If you have smaller children and plan to visit often, you may want to consider a Deluxe House Hold Membership for either Northwest Trek or the Point Defiance Zoo for $195, or a combo for $315 which includes both parks.  Each admission includes two named adults, all legal dependents up to age 18 and three guests each visit. For military families with lots of visitors, both are great locations to bring guests.

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily, 11610 Trek Dr. E., Eatonville, 360.832.6117,

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