COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– The Air Force Academy’s mascot “Aurora” is expected to recover after she was stolen in a rivalry prank over the weekend.
Army cadets stole the gyrfalcon before Saturday’s annual rivalry game that pits West Point against the Air Force Academy.
The bird has been returned home and is showing signs of improvement.
The 22-year-old bird named Aurora “was able to fly around in her pen” on Sunday, said Air Force Academy spokesperson Lt. Col. Tracy A. Bunko.
But the prank has some calling for the perpetrators to be punished.
On Facebook, one person posted, “Branch rivalry is common in the Armed Forces as is swiping the mascot of the rival school especially before a big game.”
Another posted, “I sincerely hope those responsible spend their years [in jail] at Fort Leavenworth and are expelled from their service dishonorably.”
Neither the Air Force nor the Army have said exactly how Aurora was stolen, they did say the bird was injured in the heist.
After she was returned Saturday morning, handlers were not sure whether she would be able to recover.
“We are taking this situation very seriously, and this occurrence does not reflect the Army or USMA core values of dignity and respect,” the academy said in a statement.
On the school’s website falconry page, the bird is described as a white phase gyrfalcon, which is a “falcon species that is extremely rare in the wild and whose beauty will take your breath away.”
The falcon will continue to be evaluated and receive antibiotics to prevent infection.