Handlers, Ralphie

Handlers guide Ralphie, mascot of the University of Colorado, around gridiron before Colorado hosts Utah in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in 2014.

Aaron Harber, one of the Democratic candidates for University of Colorado regent in the Second Congressional District, has begun a petition to “Save Ralphie,” the university’s live buffalo mascot.

“Ralphie is essential to the spirit and community of CU,” said Harber. “There are a number of much bigger, pressing issues facing all four of our campuses and the regents, but none of them resonates with all 650,000 CU students, faculty, staff, researchers, alumni and others around the world more than whether to continue letting Ralphie run at CU football games.”

The university has had a live mascot run across its football field before games since 1966. CU announced late last year that the fifth buffalo to serve, Ralphie V, was retiring. She turns 14 this year. The university intends to find a Ralphie VI to continue the tradition.

However, on Nov. 20, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to CU President Mark Kennedy, asking him to retire the concept of a live mascot entirely.

“Even if animals aren't physically harmed, it's hard to imagine that they enjoy being paraded before raucous crowds, entirely out of their element, and treated as if they were toys rather than living, feeling beings with interests, personalities, and needs of their own,” the letter reads.

Harber intends to deliver the signed petition to the university. If elected, he said, “I will not allow the proud tradition of Ralphie to be erased from Folsom Field.”

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