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War Eagle: Fact or Fable
Whenever Auburn people gather, the battle cry "Warrrrrrr Eagle!" is almost certain to be heard. Although little is actually known about how the battle cry originated, it has been a part of Auburn's spirit for more than 100 years. Since the first War Eagle, there have been six other birds throughout Auburnís history which have served as the school's symbol and kept alive the legendary battle cry.
The first War Eagle, according to legend, died the same day it inspired Auburn students to yell its name -- 1892 in Atlanta's Piedmont Park when Auburn played Georgia in the Deep South's first football game. In 1932, a group of Auburn people got together and bought a second eagle from a farmer for $10. Due to economic problems caused by the Great Depression, however, the group could not afford to feed the bird and was forced to give it away to a carnival that was passing through town.
Nearly 30 years later, in 1960, Auburn received a wounded eagle from Dr. Dell Hill of Talladega, Ala. An Auburn architecture student, Jon Bowden, took care of War Eagle III for a few months but eventually gave him to another student, Elwyn Hamer. Hamer was a member of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity at the time and the brothers of that fraternity continued to help care for Auburnís eagle until 1999. At one time, the eagle was housed in an aviary on campus that was named for Hamer.
During the week prior to Auburn's game against Alabama in 1964, War Eagle III broke free and landed in a nearby backyard. The owner of the property shot and killed the eagle claiming it was attacking his children.
The following year, 1965, the City of Birmingham acquired an eagle from the Jackson, Miss., zoo and gave it to Auburn. War Eagle IV would enjoy a reign of 15 years.
War Eagle V arrived in Auburn March 3, 1981 from Wyoming. After examination and observation at the College of Veterinary Medicine, the two-year-old immature Golden Eagle was presented to the university on A-Day, May 9, 1981. She died Sept. 4, 1986 after suffering a ruptured spleen.
Her successor, War Eagle VI, was located at the TVA Raptor Rehabilitation Facility at Land Between the Lakes, Ky., but she was born in St. Louis, Mo. War Eagle VI, which is named Tiger (Alabama Animal Hall of Fame bio) as were her predecessors, arrived in Auburn, Oct. 8, 1986 at the approximate age of six-years-old. The female Golden Eagle, Tiger, underwent numerous tests and conditioning programs Auburn Universityís College of Veterinary Medicine.
The female Golden Eagle weighs approximately 11 pounds and has a wingspan of almost seven feet. War Eagle VI has talons that can squeeze down with a grip of 450 pounds per square inch. To put it into perspective, the average person has a grip of 20 pounds per square inch.
In 1999, the Southeastern Raptor Center took over primary care of War Eagle VI. Alpha Phi Omega, a non-profit service fraternity, provided care for the bird for 41 years and several members of the fraternity have been trained at the Southeatern Raptor Center.
Nova, War Eagle VII, was formally introduced as Auburn's newest symbol in November 2006. Hatched at the Montgomery Zoo in 1999, Nova, a male Golden Eagle, came to Auburn in 2000 and flew for the first time as Auburn took on Kentucky in 2004.
In addition to appearing at Auburn athletic events, Tiger, Nova and Spirit make hundreds of public appearances each year including visits to schools promoting conservation education.