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Auburn, Ala. – Auburn University is retiring its 20-year-old golden eagle mascot two years after it was grounded from flying at football games because of heart disease.

A university statement issued Friday says the bird named Nova is being replaced by another golden eagle named Aurea that will become War Eagle VIII.

A ceremony marking the transition is planned for Auburn’s home football game against Samford University on Saturday. Nova has been sidelined since 2017 after being diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, which is a chronic heart disease.

A statement by veterinarian Seth Oster says Nova will mostly be restricted to presentations at the university’s raptor center.

Aurea is a 5-year-old female with a more than 6.5-foot wingspan. Aurea was brought to the raptor center in 2016 with an injured wing.

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