According to a sad report direct from Auburn University, one of the most iconic symbols in school history, golden eagle mascot Tiger, died on Wednesday at the age of 34.
What’s even more amazing is that Tiger is believed to be one of the oldest of her kind still living in captivity, and in the release, Auburn explains the events that led up to her passing.
On Aug. 31, 2000, Tiger, who was also known as War Eagle VI, was the first eagle to fly free in Jordan-Hare Stadium. For seven years, she flew at home football games and was retired following her 2006 flight at the Auburn-Georgia game.
Tiger underwent surgery June 17 to remove a cataract in her left eye, when a team of veterinarians determined surgery was needed. “The cataract was progressing, and without surgery a complete loss of vision was expected,” said Dr. Jamie Bellah, director of the Southeastern Raptor Center and head of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Clinical Sciences.
“Tiger came through surgery and anesthesia well and progressed normally during recovery,” said Bellah. “A turn for the worse occurred during the night. We, like the Auburn family, are heartbroken by her death.” A post-mortem examination (necropsy) has been requested. Plans for a memorial are pending.
College football is probably the richest sport in the country as far as tradition is concerned, and Tiger was a big symbol of that, despite not making the Jordan-Hare debut until the year 2000.
Still, in that short amount of time, she made seeing the eagle fly across the stadium prior to the game a sight to marvel at. Whether you love Auburn or hate them –yes, even you , Alabama fans– you have to admit that it’s one of the coolest traditions to watch play out in college football.