AUBURN, Ala. — War Eagle VII, also known as Nova, is responding well to medications and treatments he is receiving following his cardiomyopathy diagnosis.
On Monday, it was announced that Nova would not fly during the 2017 season due to his condition. The decision was made to avoid putting stress on his heart.
Back in February, Nova went in for a routine checkup. During the exam, doctors noticed Nova had an irregular heartbeat. From there, a echo cardiograms ad electro cardiograms were conducted. In April, a CT angiogram was done on the 18-year-old golden eagle, and doctors found that there was a significant constriction of one of the large vessels near his heart. That constriction was the cause of his cardiomyopathy and the irregular heartbeat.
“As far as I can tell, he does not even know he has a heart condition,” raptor specialist Andrew Hopkins said. “He is ready to go. He doesn’t think there is anything wrong with him, and we have to make sure he knows that he needs to be taking his meds and make sure his heart stays in good condition.”
Nova is being constantly monitored and cared for. He is receiving medications and treatments, which doctors say he is responding well to.However, there is concern that he may never fly above Jordan-Hare again.
“Ultimately, his heart will get worse overtime as the body is taxed time and time again,” Dr. Seth Oster said. “That muscle is going to get weaker. We can manage that with a variety of medications and rechecks, but what that means is that this disease will be progressive, meaning it is going to get worse. What we don’t know and what we don’t have a good answer for is: how fast is this going to happen?”
Oster said that even though Nova’s flight in the stadium only lasts a few minutes, but at the end of the day, hours of training took place before that. He added that increased stress could cause the abnormal vessels to rupture.
In the meantime, Spirit, an American bald eagle will take over the flying duties for this season.
“As far as fans are concerned, it’s going to be the same game day routine,” Hopkins said. “Spirit is going to do a great job. We’ve got confidence in her. She’s been flying since 2002, and she’ll do a great job continuing the War Eagle tradition.”