War Eagle VI has regained her eagle eye. Surgeons at Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine removed a cataract from the golden eagle in mid-December.
In the month since the surgery, recovery has gone well for the eagle also known as Tiger, who at 33 has surpassed the average age for her species.
"The decision to perform surgery in Tiger was a difficult one because cataract surgery has not been performed in many eagles, and especially one of her age," said Dr. Jamie Bellah, head of the College of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Clinical Sciences and director of the Southeastern Raptor Center. "We were unsure what the visual outcome would be. In the weeks following the surgery, Tiger has healed very well and appears to have regained vision on her right side. Before cataract removal, she would not respond to people and objects on her right, and would turn her head to look with her left eye. Now she is very aware of anything approaching her on her right side. We are very pleased with Tiger's results."
Compared to the one that was removed, the left cataract has been developing very slowly.
Removing the cataract required a team of veterinary ophthalmologists and anesthesiologists. Dr. Katie Diehl and Dr. Meredith Voyles led the surgical effort, and Dr. Jacob Johnson was the anesthesiologist.
"The ophthalmic surgery and the anesthesia are technically difficult, and our veterinary specialists and staff did an exceptional job caring for her," Bellah said.
Tiger was on her feet the evening of the surgery and has since been flying in her aviary as recovery continues.
In the weeks to come, Raptor Center educators hope to have Tiger back in front of audiences interested in learning about birds of prey and wildlife conservation.
"We do hundreds of shows each year and display many, many birds," said Raptor Education Specialist Marianne Hudson, "but the one most people ask about and are familiar with is Tiger. She has been a big part of this university for a long time."
Tiger, who is also known as War Eagle VI, came to Auburn in 1986 and was the first of Auburn's eagles to fly freely in Jordan-Hare Stadium. At the Georgia game in November 2006, she made her last stadium flight and is now "retired." Golden Eagle Nova was then inaugurated as War Eagle VII.
NOTE: For downloadable images of Tiger (War Eagle VI) and a video to accompany the story, go to http://ocm.auburn.edu/featured_story/tiger_surgery.html.