LAND BETWEEN THE LAKES, Ky./Tenn. — The Woodlands Nature Station at Land Between the Lakes is looking for help from the public in naming their animal ambassadors.

According to a press release from Friends of Land Between the Lakes, over the next year the Nature Station will begin to name each of their animal ambassadors. This naming process began July 4 with the station’s bald eagle.

“The educational animals at the Nature Station are native to the region and have been orphaned, injured or confiscated by law enforcement and can no longer be released into the wild, as their survival would be very poor,” said John Pollpeter, lead naturalist with Friends of Land Between the Lakes in the release. “It has been a long-standing policy to not name the animals, as we always wanted the kids that visit to associate them as wild animals and not pets.”

However, according to recent research, natures centers and zoos can create stronger connections between people and wildlife by naming their animals. The Nature Station has stated that its goal is to reconnect with the outdoors and the creatures that live in neighborhoods and farms.

The release said that the more than 37-year-old female bald eagle came to Nature Station in 1987. She was confiscated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife service from a person who was raising bald eagles for release incorrectly, thus she never learned the critical skills to survive and became imprinted. Eagles can live up to 50 years in captivity.

The eagle will be the first of many animal ambassadors to receive a name, and the Nature Station is asking the public for its input for the naming process. The campaign started Thursday, and the final name will be revealed July 20 on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

Over the following year, the Nature Station will name the female red wolf in October, groundhog in February, bobcat or “wildcat” during March Madness, and snapping turtles next July.

The release said a separate campaign to name additional animals will be conducted with schools and other groups that attend nature programs at the Nature Station in the upcoming school field trip season.

Those interested in helping to name the bald eagle and other Nature Station animal ambassadors can go to the Woodlands Nature Station or Friends of Land Between the Lakes Facebook pages to give name suggestions, or later vote from a list of staff-selected favorites. Voting booths will be at the Golden Pond Visitor Center and Woodlands Nature Station until July 19. The first round will be from July 4-11, then Nature Station will pick five favorites and have the public make the final vote July 12-19. 

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