The official mascot of the United States Air Force Academy has been seriously injured during a college football game and may need to abolish the arachid. The Colorado Springs newspaper mentions that the West Point captains abducted Aurora, a 22-year-old gyrfalcon, from the home of an army colonel who preceded Saturday's soccer match between the two institutions. Hawk had suffered potentially life-threatening injuries in both wings while holding a captive, and an Air Force official told the newspaper that Aurora might need to be destroyed given its age.
Aurora is the oldest bird in the Academy Wildflowers program and serves as an official school mascot. "It is a Gyrfalcon White Phase," states the USAFA website, "a species of hawk that is extremely rare in the wild …
Mascot kidnapping attempts have long been part of football matches between the various military academies in the United States. Bill, the goat of the Naval Academy, is a frequent target, like the Army's mule mascot. Bowls have reached extreme dimensions to avoid jokes, as in 1991, when, according to the Baltimore Sunset, "a group of horse racing dressed as juniors entered the West Point Veterinary Clinic, tied the workers, took four mascot moths were hunted by three Huey Cobra UH-1 helicopters. "Until this week, an Air Force aviation had never been kidnapped.
Aurora travels with the football team in games and, according to the newspaper, "was pretty lenient with an operator giving thousands of people their first look at a live hawk." The army hit the Air Force on Saturday 17-14. Because of her injuries, Aurora did not attend.
Col. Tracy Bunko, a spokesman for the College, told the newspaper that Aurora was being transferred back to Colorado for evaluation. "We have specialists in the academy who have the best training and facilities to care for," he said. "She is a member of our academy's family and we all hope for its full and rapid recovery."
MODERNIZENovember 4th: According to ESPN, Air Force Academy spokeswoman Tracy A. Bunko said Aurora was "able to fly around her pen" on Sunday, which is "a very good sign."