Rise and Conquer will be perching at Ravens games and rapping on school doors this year as the Ravens and the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore have partnered to provide live mascots for the 2009 season.
The ravens will be perched on the sideline during all of the Ravens' home games this season. They will also be stationed on Ravens Walk in front of the Johnny Unitas statue, allowing fans to get an up-close-and-personal experience with the birds on gameday.
During the season and even more so afterwards, the ravens will travel to area schools. The zoo feels the ravens will be as popular as their most-beloved animal of the moment – penguins -- meaning Rise and Conquer are expected to make at least three appearances a week at schools.
Rise and Conquer are housed in the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore's embassy program, which trains animals to go into the public. On Purple Fridays, they will come out of the program and be prominently featured at the zoo.
The two hybrid ravens, which were born in Alabama on April 16, 2009, were reared by three different handlers early in their lives so they could acclimate to different surroundings and routines.
To adjust the incredibly intelligent birds to what they will experience in front of 71,008 screaming fans in M&T Bank Stadium, the zoo's handlers have brought an onslaught of noises and movement into their habitat.
The birds listen to 98 Rock on full tilt when they are outside and have to tolerate a talkative parrot and boisterous crane -- the loudest birds the zoo could find – when they are indoors.
Rise and Conquer have not watched any of the Ravens' preseason games this season because they have been on too late. But trainer Amy Eveleth is confident they will be Ravens fans soon enough.
"I'm sure they'll love it," Eveleth said. "They don't spook easy and they like things constantly moving. So I think they'll be big football fans.
"This is something we've been trying to do for a while," Eveleth continued. "I was so excited when we were asked to do this."
"We thought what better way than to start a partnership with the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore and continue the legacy of Rise and Conquer," Ravens Marketing Coordinator Heather Blocher said. "It seemed like the perfect marriage."