Shasta VI, UH’s live mascot, dies after ‘sudden illness’
Shasta VI, UH’s live mascot since 2012 who resided at the Houston Zoo, died Thursday after a “brief and sudden illness,” the University announced.
The cougar, who was adopted in March 2012 and served as UH’s first live mascot since 1989, suffered from a progressive spinal disease and a deteriorating kidney, which is commonly found in older felines, the Houston Zoo said.
“Shasta’s service and symbolism of pride and school spirit will live on who went to see him, had their rings guarded by him or saw his handlers adorn his habitat with spirited notes of support.,” said Mike Pede, associate vice president for alumni relations.
Many have taken to social media to grieve the beloved cougar, showing their support and love for the animal who was born in 2011 and was rescued from Washington State after his mother was killed by a hunter.
“It was an honor to have Shasta VI guard my ring, from now on I’ll wear it with even more pride,” said strategic communications senior, Karime Herrera. “Shasta will be missed dearly by many.”
Shasta VI was responsible for guarding class rings every semester, with the cougar watching over them in his enclosure the night before they were to be presented to graduating students.
He was the sixth cougar to bear the Shasta name. UH had a long history of adopting and caring for live mascots before Shasta VI.
From 1947 to 1989, some cougars even lived on campus inside a cage in Lynn Eusan Park.
The feline lived alongside Haley, a female cougar who serves as a UH ambassador, the University said. The two were beloved by many UH fans and zoogoers who visited their habitat.