Sometimes pranks go too far. That was the case with last weekend’s kidnapping of two Air Force mascots. Army cadets snatched two falcons, including 22-year-old Aurora, just before the annual football game between the two rivals. Thankfully, Aurora—though injured—is back home and showing signs of improvement.
Aurora is the Air Force Academy’s official and oldest mascot. The school acquired Aurora 22 years ago as a gift from the school’s association of graduates. The Air Force Academy’s falconry page describes the bird as a white phase gyrfalcon, a “falcon species that is extremely rare in the wild and whose beauty will take your breath away.”
“Unless you are federally licensed, you can’t even touch them,” says Sam Dollar, Air Force’s falconry team adviser. He says cadets who work with the birds spend two months in training and undergo testing before they can handle them.
Army officials at West Point have apologized for the injuries to the falcon and promise a full investigation. “We are taking this situation very seriously, and this occurrence does not reflect the Army or USMA [U.S. Military Academy] core values of dignity and respect,” the academy says.
Dollar says two West Point cadets took the two birds, threw sweaters over them, and stuffed them into dog crates. When cadets turned the birds over Saturday, Aurora’s wings were bloody—likely from thrashing inside the crate.
“I think they had them for a couple hours, and then they realized it was a bad mistake,” Dollar says.
Somewhere along the line, those cadets had the chance to stop what they were doing. When others suggest pranks or stunts that could be hurtful, following God’s advice helps avoid a world of trouble: “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.” (Proverbs 1:10)
Veterinarians will continue to evaluate the falcon and administer antibiotics to prevent infection. An Air Force Academy spokesperson says the academy is “grateful for the outpouring of support and optimistic for Aurora’s recovery.”
(Aurora, a rare white gyrfalcon and Air Force Academy mascot. AP Photo)