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Auburn University to retire bald eagle Spirit from pregame flights this Saturday

Auburn University retiring bald eagle Spirit from pregame flights this Saturday
Auburn University retiring bald eagle Spirit from pregame flights this Saturday(Source: Auburn University)
Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 2:57 PM CST
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AUBURN, Ala. (WTVM) - This Saturday, the Plains will honor bald eagle Spirit upon her last pregame flight.

According to Auburn University, Spirit was brought to Auburn after being discovered in Florida with an injured wing and beak. Due to her permanent beak damage, she was treated and found to be non-releasable.

She began training for pregame festivities during home football games and made her first Jordan-Hare Stadium flight Sept. 28, 2002.

“Spirit has become a major part of Auburn tradition and is as fondly recognized by Auburn fans as Aurea, War Eagle VIII,” said Andrew Hopkins, assistant director of raptor training and education.

Auburn University says Spirit has flown for 45 Auburn football games and is the only bald eagle to have flown in the Auburn tradition - and since bald eagles have a median life capacity of 16.5 in captivity and Spirit is now 25, staff and veterinarians decided Spirit should retire.

“Spirit has served the Auburn Family well for the last 18 years, and we feel it is time to pass the reigns and let her enjoy retirement as an educational ambassador,” Hopkins said. “She has developed some arthritis, but that is typical for her age and, overall, she is in very good health. As she retires, a younger bald eagle named Independence will debut during pregame flights this fall at Jordan-Hare alongside Aurea.”

Auburn says Independence, or “Indy,” will make Auburn history as only the second bald eagle to participate in pregame festivities.

Auburn fans have one last opportunity to see Spirit soar one last time when she makes her final Jordan-Hare pregame flight at the military appreciation game when Auburn hosts Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 13 - as well as a halftime show dedicated to honoring her.

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