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PETA calls on CU Boulder to stop using live animals as mascots

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BOULDER, Colo. — Ralphie V, the live American buffalo mascot for the University of Colorado Boulder, is retiring. As the university looks for Ralphie VI, animal rights activists are calling on CU Boulder to stop using live animals as mascots.

Ralphie running at football games has been a CU tradition for more than five decades. The university says all of the buffaloes are well taken care of. But that’s not good enough for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

In a letter to CU’s president on Wednesday, PETA said, “Using live animals as mascots is often a recipe for disaster.”

With no evidence of any Ralphies being abused, people who spoke to FOX31 in Boulder on Wednesday agreed that PETA is focusing on something that is not an issue.

“Maybe they could dress one of the PETA guys up as a buffalo and they could run him out there,” said a man named PJ on the Pearl Street Mall.

In a statement, Ralphie’s program manager said, “From the time Ralphie V was 6 months old, I’ve been by her side nearly every day for the past 13 years. I am confident she is happy and healthy.”

But PETA’s stance is,  “ ... animals should not be thought of as toys, props, or amusements. Instead, they should be respected for who they are and how they live naturally.”

CU does not plan on granting PETA’s wish. The search for the next Ralphie is already underway. Buffs football fans say they are excited to welcome the next Ralphie to the football field.

Full statement from John Graves, Ralphie Live Mascot Program manager:

“No one cares more about Ralphie’s well-being than the Handlers and me. From the time Ralphie V was 6 months old, I’ve been by her side nearly every day for the past 13 years. I am confident she is happy and healthy. That will continue in the years ahead at her ranch alongside the next Ralphie. Ralphie running at football games has been a proud CU tradition for more than five decades and we have a track record of doing it safely with appropriate precautions for Ralphie, the Handlers and everyone on the field. That’s the very reason we reacted to her needs and retired her now, after 12 stellar years as our mascot. Ralphie enjoys the spotlight as the queen of our campus and she gets better care than most buffalo. We are now in the process of finding Ralphie VI, and that will require months of training for her and the Handlers to ensure we continue this tradition in a safe and healthy way.”

PETA's full statement:

PETA sent a letter today calling on the University of Colorado (CU)–Boulder not to replace Ralphie V—a female buffalo used as the school’s mascot, who reportedly can no longer be controlled—but rather to retire its live-mascot program along with her in recognition that animals should not be thought of as toys, props, or amusements. Instead, they should be respected for who they are and how they live naturally.

PETA points out that live-animal mascots have been injured when brought onto the field for sports games; numerous colleges and universities—including Cornell University, the University of California–Los Angeles, and Brown University—have now swapped live-animal mascots for crowd-pleasing costumed humans; and the exploitation of animals in circuses and marine parks is ending around the world. PETA is asking CU-Boulder to acknowledge that it’s not just human beings who have interests and that animals don’t wish to be subjected to the noise and commotion inherent in sporting events.

“Bringing a live animal into a stadium full of screaming fans is dangerous for everyone involved and no picnic for the animal,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is calling on CU-Boulder to recognize that other living, feeling beings aren’t sports props and retire its live-mascot program.”

Earlier this year, Bevo, the University of Texas’ longhorn mascot, charged Uga, the University of Georgia’s bulldog mascot, before the teams’ Sugar Bowl game.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. 

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