WEST POINT, N.Y. — One of Air Force’s falcon mascots was injured during a prank prior to the annual rivalry football game against Army, according to an official at the Air Force Academy.
The mascot, Aurora, a 22-year-old falcon, suffered an undisclosed injury and was being brought on the flight back to Colorado to see a specialist at the Air Force Academy, according to Troy Garnhart, associate athletic director for strategic communications at the school.
According to the Colorado Springs Gazette , West Point cadets took Aurora from an Army colonel’s house as part of a prank during the week leading up to Saturday’s game at Michie Stadium. The newspaper reported that both of the falcon’s wings were injured and characterized the injury as “potentially life-threatening.”
Officials at West Point did not immediately return an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Aurora, a gyrfalcon, came to the Academy in 1996. She is a rare bird because her white coloring is only found in about 1 percent of the gyrfalcon population, which are native to the Arctic Circle, according to an academy press release.
Aurora is temperamental and so does not “perform” at football games, but she does occasionally fly for exercise over the Academy’s athletic fields. In the wild, gyrfalcons hunt other birds in the air ranging in size from a pigeon to a Canadian goose.