Seahawks mascot cleared for takeoff after surgery at WSU

File: Seattle Seahawks live mascot Taima on the field during a game.
File: Seattle Seahawks live mascot Taima on the field during a game.(The Associated Press)
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 11:32 AM PDT
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Pullman, Wash. (KPTV) - Taima, the live mascot for the Seattle Seahawks, will be ready to lead his team onto the field when the NFL season begins after undergoing a brief procedure at Washington State University to remove a concerning growth from his left foot.

Dr. Marcie Logsdon, a falconer and exotics veterinarian at WSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Pullman, oversaw the March 15 surgery to remove the jelly bean-sized mass from the augur hawk’s left foot.

The mass was sent to WSU’s Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory for examination, and it was determined that it was caused by an inflammatory response to a small foreign body, possibly a splinter or thorn.

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Dr. Marcie Logsdon holds Taima, an augur hawk who serves as the official live mascot for the...
Dr. Marcie Logsdon holds Taima, an augur hawk who serves as the official live mascot for the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, before a procedure to remove a growth on the bird’s foot on Wednesday, March 15.(College of Veterinary Medicine/Ted S. Warren)

“His surgery went very, very well, and fortunately the mass was not cancerous,” Logsdon said in a written statement. “He should be all ready to go for the season opener and another Super Bowl run for the Seahawks.”

Since 2005, Taima has been a fixture at CenturyLink Field, where no Seahawks game begins until the hawk takes a rousing flight from the team’s locker room tunnel to midfield as the players storm behind him onto the field.

Taima’s owner and master falconer, David Knutson, said the 18-year-old hawk took a short break from training but recovered quickly and resumed his normal activities.

“You are always nervous when anesthesia is involved with raptors, so when Dr. Logsdon texted me and said the procedure had gone perfect, that was a big relief,” Knutson said in a statement.

Taima was initially brought to WSU to have the mass examined in early March. Logsdon and her colleagues took a small sample of the tissue and an X-ray of the foot to determine what was causing the growth and whether any bony structures were affected.

Taima poses for a photo after recovering from surgery.
Taima poses for a photo after recovering from surgery.(College of Veterinary Medicine/Ted S. Warren)

“We definitely had to consider the possibility of cancerous-type growths because of his age,” Logsdon said. “Fortunately, the initial diagnostics came back as a granuloma, which is an inflammatory response to something like a small foreign body.”

Even though the mass was thought to be benign, removal was still advised.

“It did not appear to be causing any discomfort, but it was starting to get bigger and since it was on his foot, that’s a really sensitive spot for raptors,” Logsdon said. “We’re pretty lucky it was on the side of his foot because if it moved down or had grown bigger that could have put pressure on the bottom of the foot and resulted in some really serious issues.”

The mass was removed with only a small incision and two sutures on the side of the foot. Special precautions were taken to ensure that no tendons or nerves were damaged, which could have hampered Taima’s recovery and limited her mobility.

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“We were very careful in where we placed the incision,” Logsdon said. “We made sure to avoid any of the deeper or important structures of the foot like tendons and nerves.”

Logsdon said it’s always a pleasure to work with raptors at WSU, and it’s even more exciting when her patient is famous around the world.

“Raptors definitely have a special place for me, and it isn’t every day I get to care for an animal that has performed at the Super Bowl,” she said. “I also really value being able to work with falconers and provide care for their birds because I have a personal connection with the community and I know it can sometimes be hard to find a veterinarian who has experience with raptors.”