BOULDER, Colo. — Retired University of Colorado mascot Ralphie IV died Sunday morning, the school announced Monday.
The live buffalo mascot was on the sideline for 11 seasons, from 1998 to 2008. She was a month short of turning 20.
The school said the buffalo developed an abnormal growth on her left side and tests revealed she was suffering from liver failure.
With no treatment options, she was humanely euthanized.
“She was ready to go today,” her caretaker John Graves said. “It was very peaceful. … Almost 20 is fairly old for a buffalo.”
She was buried at an undisclosed location in Henderson, Colo., where she had been since retiring.
Ralphie IV was donated to the university by media mogul Ted Turner in 1998. She was named Rowdy by ranch hands.
At 1 month old, she was found in the jaws of a coyote with bite marks around her neck. She was nursed back to health and released back to the herd, but she didn’t bond with them.
Ralphie IV made her first appearance in the 1998 opener against Colorado State. Her last run was on Aug. 31, 2008, when she was replaced by Ralphie V.
Ralphie IV led the team out on the field in 75 games, tying the number by the original Ralphie (1967-78).
“Losing Rowdy is like losing a family member,” said Gail Pederson, CU’s former associate athletic director who oversaw the Ralphie program for 20 years.
“She had a great career at the university and enjoyed all the times she led the football team onto the field, both at Folsom and at away stadiums,” Graves said. “After retirement she lived a great life grazing away in her pastures. We lost a great buffalo, a great mascot and a great icon.”