Aurora, a 22-year-old Gyrfalcon who serves as the mascot of the Air Force Academy, is said to have suffered severe injuries after a strike by army cadets.
The injuries reported on both wings of the bird, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette, are potentially life-threatening and occurred when he was taken out of the army's army headquarters, an unnamed Air Force official told the Gazette. The bird was sent to Colorado from West Point, New York, to be examined.
"We have specialists at the academy who have the best training and facilities to support them," said Academy spokesman Lt. Col. Tracy Bunko. "She is part of our Academy family and we all hope for her complete and speedy recovery."
Aurora, as the Gazette says, is the great lady of the Air Force's approximately five dozen hawks, but due to the age of the birds, their injuries may require them to be euthanized. It's been around with cadets for over 20 years and is pretty tame. Their two-inch claws, however, make it difficult to handle when annoyed. These birds usually live in captivity for about 25 years.
The Hawks are guarded at the school and have an assigned cadet when they travel. The struggle for them can be difficult and they have sometimes escaped. Before the 2010 Independence Bowl launched a hawk, which was later found in downtown Shreveport, La.
Because of the bird's injuries, the Air Force had only one hawk in the game, which was won by the army at 17-14.
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