One of the many amazing traditions to come out of our University systems is, of course, the mascot. As a University of Wisconsin alum, I can tell you we all have a soft spot in our hearts for Bucky Badger. But there is a split on how a University will portray their mascot. In Wisconsin, Bucky Badger is represented at our events is via a costume a college student is wearing. And to be honest, for a long time, I though that was how mascots were represented. All Big Ten Conference teams pay students to dress up as the mascot for events, and that seems like a fun, goofy way to earn a paycheck!
But after leaving Wisconsin and moving to Texas, I came to learn quite quickly that there is another way Universities represent their mascot: with live animals. College campuses like Colorado State University (ram), University of Colorado-Boulder (buffalo), University of Texas (longhorn cow), Louisiana State University (tiger), and dozens of other Universities have a live animal that they bring out to sporting events, parades, etc to show off and have be their mascot.
While I can appreciate a sense of tradition and college spirit, I do think we have reach a time in our history as a species where we no longer should be abusing animals for our benefit. These poor animals, most of them wild animals, are run through full stadiums of screaming people, subjected to the sounds of fans, bands, and, in the case of Colorado State University, also the sounds of cannons being blown.
It is time for us to retire all live mascots, and allow them to live out their natural lives in the appropriate setting, whether at a farm or at a sanctuary. Please join me in contacting the athletic director of any and all Universities that you know use live animals for their mascots. Below are the contact emails for each of the four athletic directors of the Universities I have mentioned in this post. If your college uses a live mascot and is not mentioned here, please put them in the comments so we can all reach out to them with you.
Please be courteous in your email/phone calls and simply respectfully request that they please retire their live mascot and stick with people dress up to represent them instead.
Colorado State University – Joe Parker, 970-491-3350
University of Colorado – Boulder – Rick George, 303-492-6843
University of Texas – Mike Perrin, 512-471-5757
Louisiana State University – Joe Alleva, 225-578-3600