ANIMAL ATTRACTION: The Live Mascots of the SEC

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Photograph By Jamie Chung

Auburn University
Seventh Generation

This time of year, the hardest-working golden eagle in the South is at Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium just after sunrise. Five days a week, War Eagle VII, also called Nova, flies three or so times in the Tigers' empty home. "Sometimes on Saturdays, there are 87,000 of our friends cheering for us," says Marianne Hudson, War Eagle's handler at the Southeastern Raptor Center. "But for the bird, we hope it's just another day at the office." As a predator, all the eagle cares about is food. An array of meats - rats, quails and rabbits - is the lure after his traditional pregame fly. "He is intelligent enough to pick his handler out of a crowd," Hudson says. "Not because he has any special affection for me but because I have his food."