COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – Air Force Academy officials announced Wednesday that their beloved live mascot “Aurora” has passed away.
“We are deeply saddened to announce that Aurora died earlier today. Aurora was the Academy’s longest serving live mascot,” officials stated. “Aurora, a White Phase Gyrfalcon and the Academy’s oldest mascot, was 23 years old, roughly twice the age of falcons in the wild.”
“Aurora was quite rare. Only three percent of all falcons are Gyrfalcons, and only one percent of Gyrfalcons are white,” officials stated.
Aurora was gifted to the Academy by its Association of Graduates in 2000.
“In her 23 years at USAFA, she interacted with tens of thousands of people at sporting venues and military and community events,” officials stated on Twitter.
“Her impact on the nearly 30 class years of cadet falconers and Falconry Team support staff cannot be overstated.” officials stated.
They described her as a “feisty, spirited bird who commanded respect.”
“Our hearts go out to our master-and cadet-falconers, who lovingly cared for and trained Aurora for more than two decades,” said Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, Academy Superintendent. “Emblematic of the beauty and majesty of our Falcons, Aurora will be greatly missed by generations of cadets, graduates, faculty members, and so many others.”
Last year, Aurora was injured when Army cadets stole her before the annual rivalry game that pits West Point against the Air Force Academy. Fortunately, she recovered from her injuries after the prank.