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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    A look at the Wildcat family tree

    Stan Liu
    2015-2016 Cheer Team

    In order to make a wildcat, you need a daddy wildcat and a mommy wildcat. However, this is not always the case. 

    Wilbur and Wilma, UA mascots, were proudly married on Nov. 21, 1986, just before the Wildcats’ football team beat Arizona State University 34-17. The two wildcats then renewed their vows in 2006, according to UA News. 

    After 29 years of marriage, this wildcat couple could not be more proud or more wild. 

    The power-cat couple even danced on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” as her team pick for March Madness in 2011 , according to the University of Arizona Alumni Association. 

    Not many couples and especially not many cats get to dance to their school’s fight song with Ellen.

    So where do Wilbur and Wilma get their genes? It turns out Wilbur and Wilma do not know who their parents are, but do consider the UA’s original mascot, the live bobcat Rufus Arizona, a grandfather.

    Rufus was a live bobcat purchased by the freshman football team as a gift to the student body, according to the UA website.

    However, there were tragic consequences to having a live animal as a mascot. Rufus attempted gymnastics stunts while tied to a tree, which caused the bobcat to hang himself. 

    The university has forever remembered him. 

    On the UA Mall stands the “Wildcat Family” statue, which shows four wildcats—two bobcats and two cubs. The statue was built in 2004 in tribute to Peter and Pat Likins. 

    Dr. Peter Likins was the 18th UA president and is known for leading the university during financial struggles, raising $1.2 billion, according to the UA website for the executive office of the president. 

    Peter and his wife Pat raised a family of six adopted children, according to the webpage for Peter Likins’ autobiography.

    The “Wildcat Family” statue gives a sense of families coming together, just as Likins had brought a lasting togetherness to the university. 

    But unlike what the “Wildcat Family” statue depicts, there do not seem to be any kitten mascots in the couple’s future, or at least not right meow.

    Yet, it seems the two have their paws full of cheering for their student Wildcats.

    “We have a lot of fun being married,” Wilbur and Wilma said. “Though, with our constant full-time student schedules, appearing at local and statewide events and appearing at games, there’s lots of travel to support our Wildcats. Our schedules are pretty tight and we are pretty content where we are right now in life.”

    This weekend, as with most of their weekends, will hold a busy schedule for Wilbur and Wilma.

    “We will be hanging out with our UA cheerleading family doing several event appearances on campus and celebrating at the Bear Down Friday pep rally Friday night,” Wilbur and Wilma said. 

    The two will start their Saturday morning by preparing for the football team’s arrival at the Wildcat Walk, followed by hyping up the fans, students and families at the tailgate. The couple will then head into Arizona Stadium for the game against Oregon State, according to Wilbur and Wilma.

    “Growing up in the Wildcat family is amazing,” the couple said. “We are filled with pride and enjoy being part of this amazing university. It’s a lot of responsibility being the face of the [UA] but we welcome it with open paws.”

    Wilbur and Wilma had this shoutout for all the families coming to campus this weekend: “Welcome to Wildcat Country. I hope you enjoy your time here on our beautiful campus, and we are looking forward to seeing you at all the festivities and on game day. Go ‘Cats.” 

    The reason UA got its mascot was because a reporter from the Los Angeles Times described the football team’s performance as one that “showed the fight of wildcats” in the 1914 Arizona versus Occidental game. 

    As a team and as a family, the Wildcats have always stuck together, spirited and fierce. That is exactly what has been passed down through Wildcat generations to Wilbur and Wilma. It’s as if spirit is inheritable at the UA; it is what UA mascots present to all their fellow Wildcats. 

    Families cheer you on to follow your dreams; college is simply a way to access those dreams.
    On some gamedays, the crowd may not seem as spirited as usual, but with a kiss from Wilma and a thumbs-up from Wilbur, ZonaZoo goes wild.

    Follow Victoria Teplitz on Twitter.

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