A Look At Live College Ball Mascots

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The college team mascot. It’s part of college tradition.  Arizona State University has ‘Sparky the Sun Devil’; Notre Dame has a leprechaun; Louisiana State University features ‘Mike the Tiger’. But some schools have live animals as their mascot, despite protests of animal rights activists (but that’s another story altogether!)

Some use dogs, like Texas A&M (a collie named ‘Reveille’), the University of Washington (‘Dubs’, ironically NOT a husky but an Alaskan Malamute), Michigan State (‘Zeke’), Mississippi State (‘Bully the Bulldog’), and the University of Tennessee (a Bluetick Coonhound named ‘Smokey’). And who can forget the bulldog ‘Handsome Dan’, Yale’s mascot?

Other schools prefer horses, like USC (‘Traveler the Andalusian’) and Oklahoma University’s ‘Boomer’ and ‘Sooner’, the two white horses that are charged with pulling the ‘Sooner Schooner’. All in all, horses and dogs seem like great ideas for live mascots.

The Unusual

Then, you have ram mascots (Colorado State’s ‘Cam the Ram’ and UNC’s ‘Rameses’), a goat (Navy’s ‘Bill the Goat’), mules (Army’s ‘Ranger’ and ‘Stryker’), and even a Russian boar (University of Arkansas’ ‘Tusk’). What’s even stranger than a Russian boar? How about live birds? Some schools have started using birds as mascots, and with stadiums that are open-air, birds shouldn’t pose much of a problem – especially when GPS trackers are attached to a bird mascot’s back!

Hawks, And Roosters, And Eagles — Oh My!

The Air Force uses a falcon for their mascot named ‘Ace’. The University of South Carolina has ‘Sir Big Spur’ as their unofficial mascot, a live rooster. But the most majestic mascot of all is the bald eagle. Boston College has recently acquired a bald eagle, and Auburn University has had two bald eagles for some time now.  But how do they keep track of these feathered friends once they are set loose?

Both ‘Spirit’ and ‘Nova’, Auburn’s mascots, soar overhead at Jordan-Hare Stadium, intimidating the opposing team and sporting a GPS tracker.  This tracking device allows handlers to locate the birds quickly via a smartphone app if they happen to fly away.

More Accurate Than Other Methods

It’s really the ease with which you can find the birds that attracted handlers to the GPS tracker. It’s lightweight, so it doesn’t bother flight patterns, nor does it affect the birds when they fly.  Schools used to use a homing device, but this is more accurate, not to mention more convenient. GPS trackers lead owners to within 10 feet of the bird, although they say it isn’t likely the birds will escape.

Because they incorporate the stadium into their daily training routine, handlers are confident they will stay put. Why? Because their training involves food, as do their shows during a game, the birds come to associate the stadium with eating. This ensures they want to be there, and trainers make sure they’re good and hungry (but not starving, don’t worry!) prior to heading to a game.

A Plan In Place

If one or both of the birds were to escape, there is a plan set up to deal with it as quickly as possible. It involves a golf cart, a smartphone, and the GPS tracker. The app associated with the device leads handlers directly to the escapee, and the bird should fly to the handler without a problem.

Now, if Northern Alabama could find a ways to place trackers on the school’s mascots, that would be a great thing. Why? This school has two live lion mascots: ‘Leo’ and ‘Una!’ We have GPS trackers that you can attach to animals too – just be careful if you’re attempting to tag a lion!

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