The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagle has become one of the first victims systematically slaughtered in Northern Japan after the discovery of a highly contagious strain of bird flu.
“Kuracchi”, as he was known to fans, made a valiant but futile attempt on Wednesday to escape exterminators screaming, “I’m not poultry”, whilst running around Miyagi Baseball Stadium with government officials in hot pursuit.
Witnesses recalled “terrible scenes” with one young Rakuten fan saying they could just make out Kurrachi’s final words: “I’m healthy! I can still throw a medium-paced curve ball!”
“He was a good bird, one of the best,” a Rakuten spokesman told reporters.
The eagle’s arms, which had served him so well over the years, ultimately become his final downfall.
“I’ll never forget how Kuracchi violently flapped his arms as he approached the side fence before finally being tackled to the ground,” said one bystander.
“He didn’t even get so much as one inch off the ground.”
Officials say the Rakuten mascot’s final moments were “quick” and “painless” despite traumatic scenes of Kuracchi “running around the stadium for a good few minutes without a head”.
Kuracchiina, a lesser known Rakuten mascot who some believe was a keen love interest of the late Kuracchi, is also feared missing with fans holding out little hope of her being found alive.
Rakuten officials say they hope to replace the mascots before the New Year with non-poultry based animals.