A golden eagle that spent nearly 30 years as the symbol of Auburn University died Wednesday after complications from cataract surgery, officials said.
Officially named Tiger, the golden eagle also known as War Eagle VI was the first eagle to fly free at Jordan-Hare Stadium at the Wyoming game on Aug. 31, 2000. She flew at home game until her retirement following the 2006 Auburn-Georgia game. She also flew at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
At 34, Auburn officials believe she was among the oldest golden eagles in captivity. According to Auburn's website, Tiger weighed approximately 10 pound.
Tiger underwent surgery Tuesday to remove a cataract in her left eye, officials said.
"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, in a release. "Tiger came through surgery and anesthesia well and progressed normally during recovery," Bellah said. "A turn for the worse occurred during the night. We, like the Auburn family, are heartbroken by her death." Just two years ago, Tiger underwent cataract surgery in her right eye, but she lost vision in the eye months later when the retina detached. A necropsy has been requested.
Two eagles — Nova, a golden eagle, and Spirit, a bald eagle — now take turns flying before Auburn football home games.
Plans for a memorial for Tiger are pending, Auburn officials said.