Update On Nova’s Heart Condition

Nova, the golden eagle, has been a staple in the Auburn University community for more than 10 years.

Soaring around Jordan-Hare Stadium to open up the season and every football game.

But, he’s been absent since last year because of his heart.

Veterinarians say he has plaque buildup and a very dilated heart. They say this type of condition can grow worse over time, so the fact it’s stayed the same is encouraging.

“With heart diseases, they are always going to be progressive diseases. They always get worse. It’s a matter of how fast. Between his April exam and October exam in 2017, he’s remained steady. We’ve halted the progression of the disease but he’s not normal, he’s just significantly improved since last February,” said Dr. Seth Oster, Veterinarian at the Southeastern Raptor Center.

Dr. Oster said he’s always had a special place in his heart for the 19-year-old golden eagle. So, hearing the news of his heart condition did sting a bit.

“He’s accepted me working on him without a grudge. These birds, they do remember me and who I am. They don’t like me because I don’t do pleasant things. He’s been the most cooperative with my work and has the best personality with working with me, so we get along,” said Dr. Oster.

They say usually when an animal is sick or uncomfortable, their personality changes or they notice a difference in their behavior. But, not Nova.

“He’s acting normal, sits on the glove, likes going out and seems perfectly normal to me, at least on the outside,” said Rhett LaPorte, Raptor Specialist at the Southeastern Raptor Center.

The veterinarians said flying is like running a couple miles for a bird. So, that’s why he doesn’t go to games so it doesn’t cause stress on his heart. But, he still participates in educational programs around town a few times a month.

“He’s still going to presentations, just like he always has. He’s just staying in the Auburn/ Opelika area. He doesn’t take anymore far awau trips just to be safe,” said LaPorte.

They do heart check ups on Nova every six months. His next one will be this April, 2018. So, we will see what the Veterinarians say. If he’ll get back in the game or if it’s time for him to retire.

Related Articles