The University of Colorado is saying goodbye to their beloved live buffalo mascot Ralphie V — not because she can’t handle the work anymore, but because they can’t seem to handle her.
After 12 seasons on the field — and at 13 years old — Ralphie V has more energy than ever.
While the school celebrates her “great health,” officials have come to realize that she may be “too fast” for her human handlers (who are often CU students), creating issues of safety for herself and others on the field.
“With past Ralphies, as they aged, their speed typically decreased; with Ralphie V, she has been so excited to run that she was actually running too fast, which created safety concerns for her and her handlers,” David Plati, associate athletic director at CU, wrote in a news release on Tuesday.
“She also wasn’t consistently responding to cues from her handlers,” he added.
The university has had a live mascot for the last 53 years, with the buffalo leading the school’s football team out onto the field ahead of each home game.
Ralphie V will officially retire after she makes her final appearance at CU’s last home game against the University of Washington on Nov. 23, where she will be a specator rather than a runner. Following her retirement, the school says the bison will live with a companion buffalo on a ranch maintained by the school’s mascot program.
“Ralphie V has served the department and the university well,” Athletic Director Rick George said Tuesday, according to the news release. “She has been a very special buffalo and has truly been adored by many. We hope she lives for many years to come and look forward to finding her successor.”
John Graves, who has been the mascot program manager since 2015, is reportedly in the process of looking for potential candidates to take her place but is grateful to continue caring for Ralphie V at the ranch.
“It has truly been an honor to care for and work with Ralphie V the past 13 years,” Graves said. “Being able to see her and spend time with her each and every day is the best part of my job. She has such a fun and energetic personality, and while I will miss her leading the team onto the field, I still have the privilege of being able to spend time with her every day at her ranch.”
“As one of the biggest and fastest Ralphies, her love for running and power was showcased every home game during her career,” he added. “It’s almost like she knew she was the queen of campus and she loved to show that fact off when she ran onto the field and at her public appearances.”
Ralphie V is the second longest-serving Ralphie, having appeared during a grand total of 76 games throughout her career. The original Ralphie ran 78 games.