Whitney Hale

By

College: Libraries

Sesquicentennial Series: The History of the Wildcat

Published: Oct 7, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 5, 2012) — In celebration of the University of Kentucky's upcoming sesquicentennial in 2015, the 26th of 150 weekly installments on the university looks at the history of the Wildcat mascot.

 

Today’s UK fans are used to seeing the Wildcat mascot at sporting events. The mascot is embodied by a man in a wildcat suit rallying the crowd, dancing and playing pranks. But the history of the wildcat mascot goes back to 1921, when the wildcat was not a man in a suit, but a live bobcat (Lynx rufus, referred to as a wildcat in Kentucky).

 

The first live mascot, Tom, was purchased by Dick Webb, an assistant football coach. Tom was lauded in the press and paraded out in his cage during games. The wildcat, a human-shy, mostly nocturnal and solitary mammal native to the state, does not take well to captivity. Tom died in less than a year.

 

He was replaced by TNT the next year, who also died in a few months only to be succeeded by Whiskers. There was a long line of live mascots up until just before World War II, ending with the cats either dying or being released into the wild again.

 

In 1947, the university’s student newspaper, The Kentucky Kernel, ran an article titled "Live Wildcat Years Ago, Why Not Now?" The article sparked a flurry of alumni activity to set the plan for a new live mascot in order. A 20-pound female cat was captured from the wild in Whitley County and named "The Kentucky Colonel." The Colonel lasted longer than most, and was the mascot for seven years before being sent to the state wildlife farm, where she died of pneumonia.

 

In the late 1950s, a stuffed wildcat was purchased from a taxidermist and trotted out at games for 10 years. The last live mascot was "Baby" in 1969. Athletic Director Harry Lancaster put an end to Baby's appearances after two games due to a fan's complaints about the cat's treatment.

 

Happily, for wildcats and animal lovers alike, 1976 saw the beginning of the human-dressed-as-wildcat tradition at UK. Gary Tanner was the first man to portray the mascot. And in 1998, UK revived the tradition of having a live wildcat mascot when they claimed "Blue" as the official UK wildcat, who lives at the Salato Wildlife Center, in Frankfort, Ky., and is never present at events.

 

This story on UK's history is presented by UK Special Collections. Special Collections is home to UK Libraries' collection of rare books, Kentuckiana, the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press and the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center. The mission of Special Collections is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, (859) 257-8716 or whitney.hale@uky.edu

 

colonel.jpglive_wildcat_mascot_abe_thomposn_photograph_album_circa_1922.jpgtnt.jpgtucky_stoll_field_1960.jpgwildcat_mascot.jpg
May
1
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Sun
2
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
Final Examinations
Massage On The Go #2
Mon
3
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
Final Examinations
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Tue
4
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
Final Examinations
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Wed
5
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
Final Examinations
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Thu
6
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
Final Examinations
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
End of the Spring 2016 Semester
Fri
7
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Friends Plant Exchange
Sat
8
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Sun
9
One + One
Final Grading window is open. The final deadline for submission of grades online in the grading portal is midnight, May 9.
Mon
10
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
First Day of Classes of the Summer I 2016 Four-Week Intersession
Tue
11
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Virtual Dementia Tour
Wed
12
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Thu
13
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Fri
14
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Sat
15
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Sun
16
One + One
Mon
17
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Community Gardens
Tue
18
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Wed
19
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Thu
20
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Fri
21
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Addie's Day: Kentucky Children's Garden
Sat
22
One + One
R. C. May Photography: Paul Shambroom: Lost
Founders Day
Sun
23
 
Mon
24
 
Tue
25
 
Wed
26
UK Appreciation Day
Thu
27
 
Fri
28
 
Sat
29
 
Sun
30
Memorial Day - Academic Holiday
Mon
31
 
Tue
 
 
 
 
May 26
UK Appreciation Day 05/26/2016
Reset Page