(ANIMAL MASCOTS/PICTURES OF ANIMALS) The University of Southern California (USC) college football team fell to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) on their home turf this Saturday. While back-to-back upsets by UCLA was the last thing to be expected, the real shock came at the tail-end of every USC scoring drive.
USC is recognized by their Troy-themed traditions—the trademark of which is their mascot, a rare pure white Andalusian horse named Traveler.
The original Traveler first made his appearance in USC’s 1961 home opener versus Georgia Tech. Ever since, whenever USC scores, the band plays “Conquest” and Traveler gallops around the Los Angeles Coliseum.
The current Trojan mascot is Traveler VII. Even though the breed of horse may have changed over the years—Travelers I through VI ranged from an Arabian/Tennessee Walker to a pure-bred Tennessee Walker to a pure-bred Arabian to an Andalusian—Traveler’s color has always remained pure white.
Officials at PETA have campaigned against the use of live animals as collegiate mascots for years, with great emphasis on the shock that comes along with constantly being surrounded by hoards of screaming fans. Their use as “entertainment figures” has essentially deprived them of their natural freedom and innate right to roam unhindered.
“We are against animals being held captive for entertainment purposes,” says PETA animals-in-entertainment specialist Daniel Hauff, “and that’s purely what this is.“
The Humane Society sees much greater potential for problems when schools adopt exotic animals as mascots.
“Even if they are bred in captivity, they retain their wild instincts and can be very dangerous around people,” Mike Markarian, executive vice president says. “It’s also inhumane in many cases when people cannot provide them with the habitat or care that they need.“
The simple remedy, according to Hauff, is already exemplified on the vast majority of college campuses, including USC’s crosstown rival—simply place an enthusiastic student inside a furry suit.
“We believe that costumed mascots are undeniably the most effective ambassadors for their teams,” Hauff says.
“Human mascots are a lot more versatile than animal mascots, which can’t interact directly with the crowd, attend charity functions, visit hospitals and do other things that human mascots can.
And clearly it’s someone in the costume who has chosen to be there and who understands the situation, which is entirely different than some animal that’s caged and then dragged out for people’s enjoyment.“
USC is not the only university to parade around a live mascot at football games, but it may be one of the few that do not also have a costumed mascot available. Check out these top 25 most famous live college mascots in the photo gallery below.
— Kayla Newcomer, exclusive to Global Animal