Auburn’s official mascot is a Tiger. However, our two live “mascots” actually represent our battle cry. They are not mascots, rather they are representations of the Auburn Spirit.
The most popular story about the battle cry dates back to the first time Auburn met Georgia on the football field in 1892, and centers around a spectator who was a veteran of the Civil War. In the stands with him that day was an eagle the old soldier had found on a battlefield during the war. He had kept it as a pet for almost 30 years.
According to witnesses, the eagle suddenly broke free and began majestically circling the playing field. As the eagle soared, Auburn began a steady march toward the Georgia end zone for a thrilling victory. Elated at their team’s play and taking the bird’s presence as an omen of success, Auburn students and fans began to yell “War Eagle” to spur on their team. At the game’s end, the eagle took a sudden dive, crashed into the ground, and died.
But the battle cry “War Eagle” lived on to become a symbol of the proud Auburn spirit. Whenever Auburn people gather, the battle cry “Warrrrrrr Eagle!” is almost certain to be heard. It has been a part of Auburn’s spirit for more than 100 years. You can see the full history and timeline here.
We are fortunate enough to have two captive eagles that are capable of the gameday flights. Therefore, each gets some airtime on gameday. These birds are not only symbols of Auburn, they are also important educational tools that represent their wild brethren. The United States Fish & Wildlife Service allows these birds to be used for educational exhibition, and they help teach tens of thousands of people about the natural world every year.
The trainers and eagles will get ready for gameday typically around four (4) hours prior to kickoff. During each game the eagle we will fly has custom-made jesses (leather straps around the ankles to control the bird). We will place these special jesses on typically around three hours before kickoff. We then load up the eagles in the van and have a police escort to the stadium. Once at the stadium, we will take the eagles out to the field and make sure they are responsive. The trainers will look at wind conditions and decide where to “launch” the eagle from. Approximately one hour before kickoff the eagle will ride up in its carrier to the “launch” location with some of the Southeastern Raptor Center student volunteers. At approximately 16 minutes before kickoff the eagle will then fly around the stadium landing near midfield.
The eagles prepare for gameday year round by going to educational presentations all across the southeast. This helps keep them desensitized to the noise and allows these animal ambassadors to help promote conservation. Starting in late July/early August the eagles will start making trips to the stadium daily to get back into the routine of flying around Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“War Eagle” is Auburn’s battle cry – not a mascot or nickname. “War Eagle” has become a way for the Auburn family to greet and identify with each other all over the world. Anywhere you’re wearing something with an Auburn logo on it, chances are you’ll hear a friendly “War Eagle!”
These birds are priceless. What better way to transport our priceless charges than in a Gunner Kennel that will withstand any onslaught?
We are very pleased to have a Gunner Kennel for transporting our War Eagle! This high-quality carrier suits the status of our high-caliber bird.
–Andrew Hopkins, Auburn University
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