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The Peregrine Fund Notes From The Field
Another Successful Harpy Eagle Day Celebration
Marta Curti — in Neotropical Environmental Education Program    Share
For the fourth year in a row, The Peregrine Fund-Panama’s education department hosted “Festiarpia,” a festival held in celebration of Harpy Eagle Day on 13 April 2008. Harpy Eagle Day, which officially falls on the 10th of April, commemorates the law that officially declared the Harpy Eagle as the national bird of Panama. This year, as last year, we joined forces with the Summit Zoo and Botanical Gardens to make the celebration even more special. The festival was held on the zoo grounds, which are located adjacent to Soberania National Park and which boast an amazing amount of wide open green space.

During the months that led up to the celebration, everyone was busy giving radio and television interviews, making flyers and generally getting the message out about this special day. All of this effort in advertisement paid off, as almost 6,000 people showed up for the event (almost 2,000 more people than last year). As in past years, the highlight of the event was the flight of a live Harpy Eagle, named Luigi. Luigi hatched in captivity as part of The Peregrine Fund’s captive breeding program. He serves as an ambassador for his species and visits local schools and communities to help teach about the importance of conserving Harpy Eagles. For most of the event’s visitors, this was the only chance they had to be able to witness the flight of such a large and majestic bird.

Children playing raptor dart game.
Children playing raptor dart game.
Other activities included a Raptor Costume Contest in which contestants were required to correctly portray a bird of prey found in Panama, and give a small presentation on some of the species’ characteristics. There were a total of 11 participants ranging in age from three to 11 years old. Prizes for the contest winners were donated by Explora, Exedra Books, Cinemark, the National and Ecological Police, the Ministry of Education, Banco Delta, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (Center for Marine Exhibits-Punta Culebra), and Fondo Peregrino-Panama.
The day’s events also featured traditional dance performances, a puppet show, arts and crafts activities, and for the first time ever, a climbing wall that was a big hit with the kids!

Many other organizations participated in this event such as Amigos Patronato del Águila Arpía (who also helped organize the fair), Panama’s Ministry of Education, the Ecological Police, Mission: Harpy Eagle, Piggy Press Books, Metropolitan Nature Park, Fundación Avifauna, the Audubon Society of Panama and ANAM (Autoridad Nacional del Medio Ambiente). It is our hope that through events such as these, word will spread about the importance of protecting Harpy Eagles, raptors, and all of our natural resources, and that the publicity surrounding the festival will help generate more local interest in conservation and in wildlife protection.

Luigi flying for the crowds.
Luigi flying for the crowds.

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