AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – This fall, Auburn University honors a remarkable milestone in the life of Spirit, AU’s beloved American Bald Eagle. Spirit will celebrate her 25th birthday with one more pre-game flight around Jordan-Hare Stadium before she retires due to arthritis concerns.

Spirit’s journey to AU’s College of Veterinary Medicine’s Southeastern Raptor Center began in the late ’90s with an injured beak and wing. Nursed back to health but unable to survive in the wild, Spirit became an iconic symbol of wildlife conservation in 2002 as she soared over Jordan-Hare Stadium in thrilling, pre-game flights.

“We honor her and all she has done serving as an ambassador for raptors and educating so many people through her flights and participating in the educational programs at the Raptor Center,” said Calvin Johnson, the Dean of AU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Sprit has soared in 45 pre-game flights and 1,800 educational presentations. The center’s mission is treating injured birds of prey – then releasing them back to the wild. For Raptors who can’t survive independently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allows the center to house and care for them and present them for conservations and wildlife education events.

Bald Eagle Indy, short for Independence and Golden Eagle Aurea, will debut in pre-game flights this fall. Spirit’s last pre-game flight will happen November 13, when Auburn University hosts Mississippi State inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. After she retires, Spirit’s educational mission will continue teaching kids and adults of all ages the importance of wildlife conservation.