An Air Force falcon injured at West Point during a prank before Saturday's annual rivalry game between the two service academies is back home and showing signs of improvement.
Air Force Academy spokesperson Lt. Col. Tracy A. Bunko said 22-year-old Aurora "was able to fly around in her pen" on Sunday.
Bunko called the development "an extremely good sign" and said the academy is "grateful for the outpouring of support and optimistic for Aurora's recovery."
The falcon will continue to be evaluated and receive antibiotics to prevent infection, Bunko said.
Army officials at West Point apologized Sunday for the injuries to the falcon and promised a full investigation.
"We are taking this situation very seriously, and this occurrence does not reflect the Army or USMA core values of dignity and respect," the academy said in a statement.
Army and Navy have a long tradition of stealing each other's mascots ahead of games, but no one had previously been able to take an Air Force falcon.
Sam Dollar, Air Force's falconry team adviser, told The New York Times on Sunday that two West Point cadets took the birds, threw sweaters over them and stuffed them into dog crates. Dollar said the cadets turned over the birds Saturday morning, with Aurora's wings bloodied -- likely from thrashing inside the crate.
"I think they had them for a couple hours, and then they realized it was a bad mistake," Dollar told the newspaper. "When Aurora started thrashing around in the crate, they decided that wasn't a good thing."
Aurora is the Air Force Academy's official and oldest mascot. On the school's falconry page, the bird is described as a white phase gyrfalcon, which is a "falcon species that is extremely rare in the wild and whose beauty will take your breath away."
"Unless you are federally licensed, you can't even touch them," Dollar said, adding that the Air Force cadets who work with the birds spend two months in training and are tested before they can handle them.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.