Air Force Academy Mascot Suffered 'Life-Threatening Injuries' During West Point Prank

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Air Force Academy Cadet 3rd Class Haley Spletzer and Academy Mascot Aurora, a gyr falcon, check out the Naval Academy Midshipmen mascots prior to the start of the sister service gridron rivalry at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md., Oct., 3, 2015

Air Force Academy Cadet 3rd Class Haley Spletzer and Academy Mascot Aurora, a gyr falcon, check out the Naval Academy Midshipmen mascots prior to the start of the sister service gridron rivalry at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md., Oct., 3, 2015

One of the Air Force Academy's live falcon mascots sustained "life-threatening injuries" after it was stolen from an Air Force colonel's home as part of a prank by West Point cadets ahead of the Army-Air Force football game on Saturday, the Colorado Gazette reports.

  • Aurora, a 22-year-old white gyrfalcon that's one of the Air Force Academy's half-dozen live mascots, had both of its wings injured "while being kept by Army cadets" after disappearing from his coop on Saturday, according to the Gazette — injuries that may necessitate euthanasia due to the falcon's "advanced age."
  • “USAFA mascot Aurora was injured over the weekend and is being transported back to Colorado,” Lt. Col Tracy Bunko, an academy spokeswoman, told the Gazette in a statement. “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.”
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In this Sept. 28, 1996, photo Air Force Academy falconer Josh Johnson stands with falcon Aurora, the academy's official mascot, at the end of a game against Rice at Air Force Academy, ColoAssociated Press/Colorado Gazetta

  • West Point officials acknowledged their cadets' responsibility for the falcon's injuries in an apology published on Twitter on Sunday.
  • "The U.S. Military Academy sincerely apologizes for an incident involving USMA cadets and the Air Force Academy Falcons," the statement said. "One of the birds was injured and the matter is currently under investigation ... We are taking this situation very seriously, and this occurrence does not reflect the Army or USMA core values of dignity and respect."

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