Students at Oral Roberts University who were supposed to be rallied by the sight of their mascot, an eagle, flying in their midst were instead left gasping when the eagle flew out of control above them and smacked into a window.
Nearly 4,000 students were gathered in the Christ Chapel on the university’s Tulsa, Okla., campus Aug. 21, to mark the beginning of the school year and Eagle Spirit Week, so named for the school’s mascot, the Golden Eagles.
University officials hired World Bird Sanctuary, in Valley Park, Mo., bring in a real bald eagle to raise the student’s excitement.
The eagle, named Lewis, was supposed to fly from the top of the chapel down to its trainer on stage, but got disoriented and began to circle the chapel before smashing into a window and falling to the floor.
Cheers and chants of “U.S.A.” quickly turned into shrieks and screams as the students watched the eagle fall.
“They’d practiced it many times, but the eagle just got disoriented,” Lucas Cherry, a first-year MBA student at Oral Roberts told ABCNews.com. “The eagle was perfectly fine.”
Cherry, 22, posted a video of the incident on YouTube where it received a stream of comments, many of them criticizing the use of the eagle at such an event, something Cherry contests.
“This particular eagle had fallen out of its nest and had an injured foot and had been rehabilitated,” Cherry said. “The eagle was deemed that it wasn’t able to hunt anymore so it had been trained to fly in stadiums.”
“The eagle wasn’t hurt,” he said. “It wasn’t abused or injured in any way.”
Despite the scare, Cherry says the welcome back chapel service was a unifying event for the students.
“It was unfortunate that what happened to the eagle, but it [the service] was a good experience for the students and brought everyone together,” he said.