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Wakeup Call: The story behind Auburn’s live mascot eagles

Sep 15, 2011, 9:00 AM EDT

auburneagle02 AP

Raptor lovers were aghast on Saturday when one of Auburn’s live mascot eagles, while circling Jordan-Hare Stadium before a game, smacked into a plexiglass press box window: apparently playing “chicken” with what he thought was another eagle. The bird continued its flight, however, and its trainers reported on Wednesday that it had been checked out and is just fine.

But why, I wondered at the time, is Auburn using live eagles to entertain the masses? Shouldn’t wild animals be in the wild? It turns out, though, that Auburn is doing the Lord’s work when it comes to protecting eagles and other wild birds. Here’s the story on that:

Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine has been rehabilitating raptors found injured in the wild since the early 1970s. Now with its own facility called the Southeastern Raptor Center, the university, in conjunction with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, use non-releasable eagles to educate and inform the public about wildlife conservation. Spirit, the bald eagle that hit the press box, was found as an injured fledgling in 1995, and nursed back to health. Because of an injury to its beak it can’t hunt successfully, and thus can’t be released into the wild. Since 2001, Spirit has been used in educational demonstrations, which include flights around Jordan-Hare Stadium.

A golden eagle, Nova, is another Auburn mascot that doesn’t cruise the stadium, but is used in smaller demonstrations. It was hatched in captivity at the Montgomery Zoo. You can help support the Southeastern Raptor Center by purchasing merchandise at the Auburn University bookstore, or by calling (334) 844-6943 or visiting auburn.edu/raptor.

By the way, the tiger is Auburn’s official mascot, but War Eagle is the school’s battle cry, and the university has had a live eagle mascot since 1930. There are several legends as to how War Eagle became associated with the university, including one I made up involving three coeds and a drunken trip to the zoo (my favorite).

So, to review:

source: AP

Auburn Eagle = Win.

source:

Screech the Eagle = Fail.

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  1. Dirty D Fo - Sep 15, 2011 at 7:00 PM

    If can still jack some shiz up wit dem’ claws.