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Twenty years after settling on the Cougar as their official mascot, the University of Houston made the logical decision to begin keeping live mountain lions on retainer. Serving as a campus pet, feline guest of honor at events and mascot at football games, Shastas I through V were, literally, the pride of UH.
Shasta is the mascot of the University of Houston athletics teams, the Houston Cougars. The name "Shasta" refers to both a live and an anthropomorphic costumed cougar mascot. The origin of Shasta dates back to when John R. Bendera former head football coach of the Washington State Cougars came to Houston. Because of his fondness for the animal, Bender decided it would be the name of his new teams.
Later that year, the school newspaper actively used the name, and other student organizations followed. Inthe cougar was named the official mascot by the University as Houston as it became involved in intercollegiate sports. The next year, the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity raised funds to purchase a live cougar for the university, and held a contest to name it.
Among other entries, student Joe Randol won the contest with the following submission: "Shasta She has to. Shasta have a cage, Shasta have a keeper, Shasta have a winning ball club, Shasta have the best.
From until a live cougar mascot was used. However, from untilShasta existed as only a costumed mascot. Although a current live mascot was adopted by the university through a partnership with the Houston Zooa costumed student is still used for game appearances.
Shasta I — was the longest serving Shasta. She was purchased in Mexico during the fall semester of by members of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity. Student caretakers of Shasta were known as the "Cougar Guard", and were responsible for bringing the cougar to the football team's away games among other activities.
Following her service as the University of Houston mascot, she resided at the Houston Zoo. Shasta II Shasta the cougar was the shortest serving Shasta, and was the first to live in "Shasta's Den" a cage built for her at the southwest corner of Lynn Eusan Park. It's said that she was retired so soon due to an unruly attitude. She later resided at the Houston Zoo. She was featured in several commercials for the American Motors Corporationbut was forced to retire due to poor health.
Shasta IV — was also known as "Baby Shasta". She only served three years due to the difficulty in controlling her. Shasta V — was the last female cougar of the original continuous line to serve as a live mascot for the University of Houston. After a kidney failure, she was euthanized.
All you need to know about shasta’s history
After Shasta V, interim President George Magner ended the tradition of a live mascot at the university, until Shasta VI —Present was announced as the first live mascot at the university sincein partnership with the Houston Zoo. Prior to the current mascot, there was much debate as to whether or not the university should purchase another cougar.
Those who opposed another live cougar often claimed that having a caged cougar was inhumane and dangerous. Shasta VI was vested in a ceremony for alumni on 24 March From throughthe Shasta the cougar chose not to purchase another live cougar, and Shasta only existed as a costumed mascot.
During this time, although a live cougar appeared in University of Houston's "Learning. The costumed Sasha mascot eventually began making appearances with Shasta, and now the two are seen at many University of Houston events. During the football season opener game between Shasta the cougar Houston Cougars and the Oregon Ducks at Oregon, the costumed Shasta became involved in a physical fight with Oregon's Donald Duck mascot.
The duck attacked Shasta while Shasta was doing push-ups for total points after each touchdown in front of the Cougar fans at Autzen Stadium. Push-ups for the total points scored are a tradition for the University of Houston as well as Oregon.
After finishing some push-ups, the duck mascot physically attacked Shasta, eventually taking the mascot to the ground.
Shasta, actually portrayed by the football player Matt Stolt for the Cougars, tackled the duck and walked away. The duck answered by punching the Houston mascot in the face and then performing simulated lewd acts on top of the cougar.
The fight was captured by both amateur video and game cameras, and was subsequently posted on YouTube as well as being reported on by most major media organizations including ESPN. University of Oregon's mascot was suspended for their next game against Fresno State as a disciplinary action. It was never revealed what further penalty the student in the Shasta the cougar suit faced.
Early costumed Shasta poses with former university president Marguerite Ross Barnett during the s. Shasta Shasta I, ca. Houston Cougars athletics. Retrieved Retrieved 18 September Houston Chronicle.
Website of the Houston Alumni Association. University of Houston. Retrieved 29 February September 14, Retrieved June 19, Located in : HoustonTexas. Moores School of Music.
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