Jason C. Consolacion
Ed De La Garza
Christian Schmidt Keenan
UH hasn't had a live cougar mascot since 1989. Could it be time to bring
The subject of whether UH should have a live cougar is bantered about
on a regular basis. Supporters argue that bringing a live cougar to
campus might help raise school spirit, which is desperately needed.
Those who don't want a live mascot argue that it's inhumane to keep a wild
animal caged up, and it could be dangerous.
Both sides have good points. If a wild cougar were caged in a small
area like UH's original Shastas were, it would be miserable. And if one
were to be handled by students who got a mere three weeks of training,
instead of professionals, accidents could occur.
But an animal on campus now wouldn't have to be subjected to poor living
conditions or be handled by untrained keepers.
When Shasta I came to UH in 1947, animal rights wasn't exactly an issue.
But these days, people are much more concerned with how animals
are treated. Animals in captivity now tend to have better health and
longer lives than animals in the wild, although it's in exchange for their
When UH's last cougar, Shasta V, died in 1989, plans were underway to
build a new facility for the mascot. Protests beginning in 1985 over
Shasta's bad living conditions were the impetus for a 1987 fundraising
attempt for a new, larger facility with better safety measures. But when
Shasta V died, a little more than $20,000 of the $120,000 needed had
Shasta V's death raised the issue of whether or not she should be replaced.
UH's then-President Richard Van Horn supported a new live
mascot, but he resigned a few months later. His job was filled by interim
President George Magner, who refused to bring in a new Shasta
despite a student referendum that supported getting a new live mascot
if a better facility were built.
Magner left a loophole, though: If the Student Government Association
president were to reopen the issue, another cougar might be a possibility.
But no SGA president has done so.
If a cougar were brought back to UH, it would have to be kept in a large,
naturalistic habitat and be handled by professionals, which would be
expensive. UH would also have to get around the City of Houston's ban
on exotic animals. There are many obstacles to be considered, but it's
tradition students and administrators should seriously think about