Nova, Auburn's golden eagle, will not fly during 2017 football season

Nova (Wesley Sinor/
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AUBURN, Ala. ( — Nova, Auburn's beloved golden eagle, will not fly during pre-game events this upcoming football season due to a cardiomyopathy diagnosis, Auburn University announced today. Spirit, a bald eagle, will assume pre-game flight duties instead.

Nova, also known as War Eagle VII, was recently diagnosed with a chronic heart disease by Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine faculty after a routine checkup revealed the 18-year-old eagle had an abnormal heart rhythm.

Veterinary faculty, in consultation with the Cardiology Service in the Wilford and Kate Bailey Small Animal Teaching Hospit performed a CT angiography on Nova. The CT angiogram showed areas of significant constriction of his right brachiocephalic trunk, one of the large blood vessels near Nova's heart, as the cause of cardiomyopathy and arrhythmia, an irregular or abnormal heartbeat.

"These areas of constriction can increase the systolic pressure of the heart so that Nova's heart has to pump harder to move blood around his body," said Oster. "This type of problem could have multiple causes, the most common of which in birds is atherosclerosis."

Because of the risk of severe medical complications, veterinary medical staff decided that Nova should not be placed in situations that cause his heart to work harder than usual. Instead, the beloved eagle will rest comfortably in his enclosure at the raptor center and attend educational functions.

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