The Denver Post/YouTube

Aurora, a white gyrfalcon Air Force mascot, sustained life-threatening injuries as a result of an army prank that went too far.

The prank was carried out by West Point cadets as a part of Air Force/Army week, according to Colorado Springs' newspaper, The Gazette.



Academy sources said the 22-year-old falcon was "stolen" from an Army colonel's house before West Point's annual football game against rivals Army, in upstate New York.

Both of Aurora's wings were damaged while the cadets kept the live-mascot, but specifics as to how it happened was not disclosed.

Lt. Col Tracy Bunko gave a status update and was hopeful Aurora would recover from her injuries.

"USAFA mascot Aurora was injured over the weekend and is being transported back to Colorado."
"We have specialists at the academy who have the best training and facilities for her care. She is part of our academy family and we are all hoping for her full and speedy recovery."

Gyrfalcons like Aurora living in captivity can live up to 25 years, according to Teton Raptor Center.

But an anonymous Air Force official believes the falcon may have to be euthanized from the injuries due to her advanced age.

This set off a fury of indignation over the cadets' prank.






Stealing mascots between Navy and Army rivals is a centuries-old tradition, with the most notable being West Point's kidnapping of the Navy's goat on November 22, 1953, according to Vice.

Aurora is one of half a dozen birds handled by a dozen cadets but was considered to be the grand dame of the flock as she has traveled with the cadets for two decades.

She is described as having a "well-known temper and flighty nature," which prevented the falcon from participating as a flying mascot. But Aurora was docile enough for people to get up close and pose for pictures.


The U.S. Air Force Fighter Pilots tweeted some good news in an update.


H/T - ViceSports, YouTube, Twitter, Gazette

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