Aurora, a 22-year-old gyrfalcon that serves as one of the Air Force Academy’s mascots, reportedly suffered serious injuries after a prank by Army cadets.
The injuries, which the Colorado Springs Gazette reports were to both of the bird’s wings, are potentially life-threatening and occurred when it was taken from an Army colonel’s home, an unnamed Air Force representative told the Gazette. The bird was being sent back to Colorado from West Point, N.Y., to be examined.
“We have specialists at the academy who have the best training and facilities for her care,” academy spokesman Lt. Col. Tracy Bunko said. “She is part of our academy family and we are all hoping for her full and speedy recovery.”
Aurora is, as the Gazette puts it, the grand dame of the Air Force’s half-dozen or so falcons, but, because of the advanced age of the birds, its injuries may require it to be euthanized. It has traveled with cadets for over 20 years and is quite tame. However, their two-inch talons make them difficult to handle if upset. These birds typically live around 25 years in captivity.
The falcons are guarded at the school and have an assigned guardian cadet when they travel. Wrangling them can be difficult and they have, at times, escaped. Before the 2010 Independence Bowl, a falcon took off and was later found in downtown Shreveport, La.
Because of the bird’s injuries, Air Force had only one falcon at the game, which Army won, 17-14.
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