Aurora, Air Force’s live falcon mascot, dies at 23

Ryan YoungYahoo Sports Contributor
Aurora, the Air Force's live falcon mascot, died on Wednesday. She was 23, making her the longest serving live mascot in school history. (AP/Otto Kitsinger)
Aurora, the Air Force's live falcon mascot, died on Wednesday. She was 23, making her the longest serving live mascot in school history. (AP/Otto Kitsinger)

Aurora, the Air Force’s live gyrfalcon mascot, died on Wednesday, the academy announced.

She was 23, which made her the longest-serving live mascot in school history.

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We are deeply saddened to announce that Aurora died earlier today. Aurora was the Academy’s longest serving live mascot. In her 23 years at USAFA, she interacted with tens of thousands of people at sporting venues and military and community events. In addition to serving as an ambassador for USAFA, she was an ambassador for all falcons, helping us educate the public on the importance of these majestic birds. Her impact on the nearly 30 class years of cadet falconers and Falconry Team support staff cannot be overstated. She was a feisty, spirited bird who commanded respect. We all feel her loss deeply.

Gyrfalcons, according to the Teton Raptor Center, can live to be 25 years old when raised in captivity. They are the fastest birds in flight when moving parallel to the ground at 75-85 mph. Only three percent of all falcons are gyrfalcons, and only one percent of them are white.

Aurora was a gift to the Air Force by its Association of Graduates in 2000, per CBSDenver. She was one of several falcons the school uses at sporting events.

Aurora made headlines last season after she was abducted as part of a prank by West Point cadets ahead of their rivalry game against Army. She injured her wings during the abduction, and officials initially thought that she needed to be euthanized as a result. Aurora, though, quickly improved after she was recovered.

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