Why does Auburn say "War Eagle" when they are the Tigers?

Photo courtesy: Auburn University

Have you ever wondered why Auburn has so many mascots? There's Aubie the Tiger, the War Eagle, and there was also once a peacock mascot for the men's basketball team. The peacock was from Auburn men's basketball fans on Twitter, but hey, it counts. So why are there so many animals running around Auburn? Let's get to it.

Auburn's official mascot of its athletic teams is a Tiger, whose origins are similar to many universities. The university held a contest, and a student submitted the idea of a tiger as the mascot. But Aubie the Tiger specifically has been around since 1959. He initially appeared in gameday football programs and would continue there for 18 years. In 1979, Aubie came to life in costumed mascot form, and the rest is history.

Makes perfect sense. So then, what is the eagle?

Technically, War Eagle is not a mascot or nickname at all; it's Auburn's battle cry. The most popular version of the story comes from 1892, when Auburn played against Georgia. A Civil War veteran brought an eagle to the stadium during the game as a good luck charm. He had found the eagle on the battlefield and kept it ever since.

The eagle broke free and circled the field as fate would have it. While the eagle circled the area, Auburn went the length of the field and into the endzone for a game-winning drive. Obviously, fans were ecstatic and began chanting, "War Eagle!" And that is exactly how traditions in the 1880s started. It's now been part of Auburn's culture for over 100 years.

Photo credit: Albert Cesare/Montgomery Adviser

Today, Auburn University has a dedicated and specialized team that takes care of its live eagles, which are part of the War Eagle tradition at athletic events. These eagles are housed in the Southeastern Raptor Center, which serves as both a rehabilitation center for injured birds of prey and a training center for the War Eagle program. The center is staffed by experienced veterinarians, trainers, and volunteers passionate about these magnificent birds' welfare.

So there you have it. Keep this in your pocket for your next trivia night. We love the quirky traditions that each university holds, and we promise to keep bringing them to life on the comfiest college apparel you've ever worn.

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1 comment

  • Joe

    Another fascinating piece. Your research is terrific!

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