Ralphie V, the Colorado Buffaloes live American Bison mascot has officially been retired, per an announcement by the University of Colorado.
The 13-year-old female buffalo is said to be in “great health” and will be on campus for spectators during Senior Day on Nov. 23. She will not run, but rather be in attendance for a celebration of her service to CU.
In a statement released on Tuesday, CU said there was concern from Ralphie’s handlers with her being “so excited to run that she was actually running too fast, which created safety concerns.” She also wasn’t consistently responding to cues from her handlers, and her temperament was such that she was held back from leading the team out for CU’s last two home games against USC and Stanford.
“Ralphie V has served the department and the university well,” CU Athletic Director Rick George said. “She has been a very special buffalo and has truly been adored by many. We hope she lives for many years to come and look forward to finding her successor.”
According to CU’s Dave Plati, “This is the 53rd season that a live buffalo has led the team out on the field, both at the start of games as well as before the start of the second half. In all, the five Ralphies have led the team out 296 times at Folsom Field, and 355 times overall including road games, conference championship games, neutral site contests and bowl games. There have been only 13 occasions during the program’s history when a Ralphie did not lead the team out at home.”
“As one of the biggest and fastest ‘Ralphies’, her love for running and power was showcased every home game during her career,” Ralphie’s program manager John Graves said. “It’s almost like she knew she was the queen of campus and she loved to show that fact off when she ran onto the field and at her public appearances.”
Ralphie V retires as the second-longest serving live mascot in CU history. The original Ralphie ran at 78 games over 12 seasons, Ralphie II ran at 53 games in nine seasons, Ralphie III ran 73 times over 11 seasons, while Ralphie IV ran at 75 games in 10 seasons. Ralphie IV was the last Ralphie to appear at a regular season road game, traveling to Georgia in 2006 where she was showcased with Uga, the school’s famous bulldog mascot. (A Bevo situation did not occur, however.)
Ralphie V led the team a total of 76 times, two games shy of the record set by the original buffalo. She appeared 65 times at home, on 10 occasions in Denver and at the 2016 Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. She was held back from running five times, including the two times this season. Colorado went 8-2 in Denver against Colorado State when she ran in front some of the biggest crowds during her tenure and retires with a 39-37 record overall.
The successor for Ralphie V will be determined in conjunction with CU in the coming months. The Ralphie Program is 100 percent donor-funded and relies on the generosity of donors for the upkeep and care of CU’s most-beloved mascot. With an operating budget of more than $60,000 annually and the retirement of Ralphie V, the financial needs of the program will increase exponentially as CU continues to provide for her care and train her successor. In recognition and celebration of Ralphie V, those who would like to donate to te Ralphie Program can donate through this link: https://cubuffclub.com/