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Ten birds, six people, and one broken van. That’s the situation the staff and birds of Auburn University’s Southeastern Raptor Center found themselves in after a recent educational trip to Huntsville.

“The van broke down after our presentation at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens,” said raptor specialist Andrew Hopkins. “Thankfully, it was March and not hot outside, as there is a danger of the birds overheating. We had to rent three SUVs to get home.”

Raptor Center van breakdown

The Raptor Center is well known for training and caring for the eagles that fly in Jordan-Hare Stadium. But the Raptor Center’s primary role is to promote wildlife conservation, education, and rehabilitation. The center rehabilitates and releases hundreds of injured birds of prey and conducts about 280 educational programs a year throughout the Southeast.

“We travel a lot of miles to conduct programs in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee,” said Marianne Hudson, assistant director of Education and Raptor Training. “Dependable transportation is vital.”

Unfortunately, the van required extensive repairs in Birmingham, which is the closest facility equipped to work on this model.

The vehicle is fitted with a system of racks that hold the raptor carriers securely so the birds are safe during transit. The cargo area of the van is also climate controlled to keep the birds comfortable, which is essential when travelling around the Southeast in the warmer months.

Help fund a new van

A private donor provided the program with the current 2006 van. It has served the center well for many years, but more reliable transportation is needed.

“We estimate we need $50,000 to purchase a van, modify it to carry the birds, and wrap it so we can properly represent Auburn,” said Hudson.

A new van will provide dependable, safe transportation for the Raptor Center’s educational trips around the Southeast, not to mention daily trips to Jordan-Hare Stadium from July to December.

Your help is needed to keep these Auburn ambassadors cool and road ready. Show your War Eagle spirit by donating toward a new van for the Raptor Center today.

Raptor Center educational program