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Air Force’s falcon mascot is back to flying after Army pranksters injured her

The live mascot had reportedly suffered life-threatening injuries, and will have further x-rays if necessary.

NCAA Football: Wyoming at Air Force Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Air Force’s live falcon mascot is improving after being injured in the course of a prank by West Point cadets around Saturday’s Air Force-Army football game.

Details, from Colorado Springs’ KKTV:

WEST POINT, N.Y. (KKTV/The Gazette) - The Air Force Academy’s beloved white gyrfalcon mascot made huge strides Sunday morning after suffering serious injuries, leaving academy officials hopeful that she would recover.

”Aurora returned home last night and as of this morning was able to fly around her pen. She will see a specialist later today who will determine if X-rays are necessary, but this is an extremely good sign. We will continue to evaluate her and administer antibiotics to prevent an infection. We are grateful for the outpouring of support and optimistic for Aurora’s recovery,” said Lt. Col. Tracy Bunko in a statement Sunday afternoon.

Academy officials had feared the worst after the 22-year-old mascot suffered injuries to both wings during a visit to West Point for Air Force/Army week. Associate Athletic Director Troy Garnhart told 11 News Aurora was in “bad shape,” and there were worries her injuries were life-threatening and would force the academy to euthanize her.

The mascot, a white gyrfalcon named Aurora, was taken by Army cadets. According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, Air Force keeps more than one live mascot, who are guarded at the academy and have an assigned cadet guardian when they travel. Saturday, Aurora was taken from an Army colonel’s home and transported back to Colorado, according to the Gazette.

Air Force tweeted Sunday afternoon that Aurora is back airborne, and it looks like she’s out of the woods for now.

While the falcon was in West Point custody, it suffered injuries to both of its wings. Because of the animal’s age, euthanization was on the table, The Gazette reported. According to the Teton Raptor Center, gyrfalcons can live up to 25 years when in captivity.

Academy spokesman Lt. Col Tracy Bunko told The Gazette:

“USAFA mascot Aurora was injured over the weekend and is being transported back to Colorado. 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.”

The mascot has been known to go missing before. It did so during the Independence Bowl in 2010, and most recently in a game last season. But this is the first time in a while that somebody has gotten to one of Air Force’s birds. Unfortunately, it’s had bad results, but thankfully it looks like it can make a full recovery.