1998, National Zoo
With a noble crown and 7-foot wingspan, it has what JFK called “fierce beauty”
Unique to this continent, the American bald eagle first served as an official national symbol in 1782 on a seal approved by the Continental Congress. Benjamin Franklin, who’d helped design a seal that was rejected, said he would have preferred a turkey, calling the eagle a “coward” with “bad moral character” largely because it steals food from other birds. Tioga, a 15-year-old at the National Zoo, can’t fly—he had a fractured shoulder when found as a fledgling; he eats hand-delivered rats, fish and chicken legs.