Auburn Alabama —
The Auburn eagle will fly in support of breast cancer awareness by wearing pink, one-of-a-kind leather jesses, and flying to a pink-highlighted lure when he makes his pre-game flight in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 26.
When Nova or Spirit flies before the Auburn-Florida Atlantic game, he will sport the hand-made equipment which allows Southeastern Raptor Center specialists to securely handle the eagle. For the last three years, the equipment is made by volunteers for each flight, and center staff plans to sell the unique items to support the care of birds of prey.
Southeastern Raptor Center Specialist Andrew Hopkins came up with the idea of the eagle wearing pink to show support to the thousands of Americans who fight breast cancer. “I was seeing players wearing pink and fields with pink ribbons painted on them and thought it would be something the Raptor Center and the Auburn eagles could do as well,” Hopkins said.
The pink lure and jesses were hand-crafted by Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine first-year student Emily Warman of Alabaster, Ala. A volunteer at the raptor center from 2009-2013, Warman continues to volunteer when she has time from her busy study schedule.
Center employee Eva Mathews came up with the idea about four years ago for volunteers to create the equipment. While Warman’s abstract design features all things Auburn – a Toomer’s tree, an eagle head, a toilet paper roll, lemonade cup and a band instrument to name a few – she was excited to add the pink paint for breast cancer awareness.
“We lost my grandmother, Eudora Warman, to breast cancer and we have a close family friend who is fighting breast cancer now,” Warman said.
Warman comes from an Auburn family: her dad, Andrew Warman, is a graduate, and grandfather, Jim Warman, is retired director of the Water Resources Research Institute. She says it’s “definitely pretty cool” to know the eagle is flying something she crafted, and has the same spirited feelings as thousands of Auburn fans do when she watches the eagle fly.
A division of the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, the Southeastern Raptor Center is a non-profit organization with a three-fold mission of rehabilitation, education and conservation.
Since its inception in the mid-1970s, the center has rehabilitated and released thousands of injured birds of prey and educated more than 1 million visitors about raptors and other forms of wildlife.
The uniquely-Auburn tradition of an eagle circling free around Jordan-Hare Stadium before each home football game started in 2000 and is due to the training provided by raptor center specialists. The flights are in support of the center’s conservation message, and conducted with the permission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.