PETA wants the university to stop using Sturgis as a mascot, protesting: “An arena filled with bright lights, screaming fans, flashing cameras and loud noises is terrifying and distressing for animals. Intelligent, sensitive birds simply do not belong at sporting events.”
KSU athletics director Vaughn Williams responded back in October when Sturgis made his inaugural flight, saying the bird wouldn’t fly free at events and he wasn’t distressed. “Judging from Sturgis’ demeanor, he felt comfortable and safe,” Williams said.
That rings true for me, having had the pleasure of seeing a great horned owl at very close range, that was perched in a tree in our backyard during daylight hours a couple of years ago. What a majestic creature, unperturbed by my staring out the window and shooting pictures.
Anyway, Sturgis, named for KSU’s first president, Horace Sturgis, is in the good hands of trainer Daniel Walthers at Winding Wood Ranch in Commerce. Among other mascots trained by him are the Baltimore Ravens’ two live ravens, not nearly as handsome as Sturgis, by the way.
As for protecting Sturgis and other live mascots, have you ever seen any better looking specimens of birds or beasts than these mascots?
Some, like Sturgis, are simply majestic. That goes for LSU’s tiger, Mike, who looks like a Bengal and is actually a Bengali-Siberian hybrid. USC’s Traveler is a beautiful white horse that circles the field when the Trojans score. Ralphie the bison, the University of Colorado’s mascot, is another majestic creature — incidentally, donated by Ted Turner as was her predecessor.
There are more live mascots than you can shake a stick at. A couple of years ago, bleacherreport.com ranked the “Top 10” live mascots in college sports. Number 10 was USC’s Traveler. Ninth was Dubs, the University of Washington’s Alaskan Malamute. Eighth: LSU’s Mike the Tiger. Seventh was a bit of a surprise: Tusk, the University of Arkansas “razorback” that is actually a Russian boar weighing a whopping 400 pounds. No doubt, in the pig world, Tusk is considered handsome.
Sixth was the War Eagle named Nova VII from Auburn, another of the beautiful species that serve as mascots. Fifth: Bevo the University of Texas Longhorn, a critter you wouldn’t want to have to rassle or wrestle. The current one is 14th in the line going back to 1916. His horn span is just about unbelievable but, according to UT, Bevo is quite docile and doesn’t need five or six handlers.
Fourth: Bill the Goat, the Navy mascot that dates to the 1893 game with Army. The Navy’s goat probably ranks as the most-kidnapped mascot of all, falling prey time again to other branches of the armed services. Third was Ralphie, Colorado’s bison.
Second, another surprise, was SMU’s “mustang,” actually a Shetland pony.
And get this: Number One was Uga, the Georgia Bulldog — the live one, not a robot as suggested by PETA.