National Symbol & School Mascot
The Bald Eagle, found only in North America, became the official national symbol of the United States of America in 1782. In 1960, "Eagles" became the new mascot for Georgia Southern and the majestic, soaring raptor depicts the spirit and pride of the University. The Bald Eagle makes its home along coastlines and near large bodies of fresh water. With a wingspan of 6-8 feet, eagles require a 25-mile hunting territory and appear to mate for life. Eagles have been known to live for as long as 50 years!
Despite common belief, the word "Bald" refers to the French term meaning "white" and does not refer to the bird being hairless or lacking feathers. The population of Bald Eagles was affected by use of the pesticide DDT and eagles were placed on the Endangered Species List. In Georgia, not a single pair of nesting eagles could be found. Due to a ban of DDT and concerted recovery effort on the state and federal level, the Bald Eagle has made a remarkable comeback and is now off the Endangered Species List.
The Story of Freedom
Found knocked out of a nest in Maitland, Fla., the Southern Bald Eagle "Freedom" was only weeks old and resembled a brown ball of fuzz. He was rushed to the Florida Audubon Center for Birds of Prey to provide care for an infection and an injury to his beak. He made a complete recovery from the infection, but permanent injury to his beak prevented his release into the wild. With the permission of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Georgia Southern acquired Freedom in May 2004.
At eight years of age, Freedom has now reached adulthood and his head and tail feathers have the bold white plumage marking maturity. Both his eyes and beak, which are black at birth, now are the distinctive yellow seen in mature bald eagles. Freedom serves as an ambassador for wildlife and as a symbol for the University. Through the Center for Wildlife Education and Lamar Q Ball, Jr. Raptor Center, thousands of visitors young and old are embraced by the power of Freedom.
Georgia Southern Eagles
In true Eagle tradition, Glory, a 23-year-old Southern Bald eagle, first appeared at a football game in 1998. She presided over numerous events, including three national championships. Glory now enjoys her status as the revered matriarch and welcomes visitors at the Center for Wildlife Education, home to three bald eagles and one golden eagle.
Freedom now assumes the role of the live mascot and is one of only two American Bald Eagles in the country flying during collegiate football games. His presence at games and other events will continue Glory's tradition of inspiring and educating Eagle fans. In September of 2007, just before kickoff, Freedom made his debut flight from the top of the Paulson Stadium pressbox to midfield to the cheers of thousands.
Georgia Southern fans can visit Freedom, Glory and Franklin at the Center for Wildlife Education and Lamar Q Ball, Jr. Raptor Center on campus Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday 1-5 p.m. (closed Saturday throughout June, July and August). Learn more about the inhabitants at the Center online at at http://welcome.georgiasouthern.edu/wildlife/.
- Category: Athletics
- Published on Friday, 29 June 2012 12:41