- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Cadets at the Air Force Academy will choose a name for their new falcon mascot later this year, but an animal rights group is calling on the school to stop using live animals in the future.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal (PETA), sent a letter to academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay B. Silveria condemning the practice.

“The as-yet-unnamed gyrfalcon deserves to spend her days with her mate —gyrfalcons are monogamous and mate for life — raising her chicks and soaring free, not being shuffled from football games to community parades like a piece of sporting equipment,” PETA senior director Marta Holmberg wrote.

A raucous stadium filled with flashing lights and screaming football fans is an unsuitable environment for birds, PETA officials said. The last Air Force Academy falcon mascot reportedly sustained wing injuries when she was stolen in 2018 as a prank by rival casts from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

“Many schools have retired their animals and switched to employing costumed humans,” the letter stated.

PETA officials said it was “ironic” that an academy focused on training cadets to fly would keep a falcon confined.

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