The University of Colorado Boulder is known as one of the most liberal colleges in the country. But there's apparently a line over which campus progressives won't step, as evidenced by the reaction to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal's call for the school to drop Ralphie, its live buffalo mascot.
Various Ralphies have been running at CU Buffs games for 53 years, and Sports Illustrated recently named the collective beasts the sixth-best college mascot of all time — a controversial decision in Boulder, but only because the ranking wasn't higher.
Shortly after this honor went public, the university announced that the latest mascot, Ralphie V, would be retiring — not for any medical reason (she's said to be in "great health"), but because she's so damned fast that her handlers can't keep up with her. PETA apparently interpreted this explanation as evidence that she "can no longer be controlled," and in a release suggested that CU "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."
That's not going to happen, as is made clear in a statement from John Graves, who manages the Ralphie program at CU. "No one cares more about Ralphie’s well-being than the Handlers and me," he writes. "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."
Twitter users picked up on Graves's "queen" reference — when they weren't dropping F-bombs, that is. See what we mean by counting down our choices for the twelve most memorable tweets about Ralphie and PETA.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism