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January 28, 2013

War Eagle VI (Tiger) gets her eagle eye back

Mike Clardy, Auburn Office of Communications and Marketing

AUBURN, Ala. – 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.

“Tiger has had cataracts developing in both eyes for a number of years,” said Dr. Jamie Bellah, head of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Clinical Sciences and director of the Southeastern Raptor Center. “The cataract in the right eye became complete, obstructing her functional vision from that side. We made the decision to remove that right cataract before the left cataract obstructs her vision. So far the left cataract is unchanged and Tiger still retains functional vision from this eye.”

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.

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