CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — West Texas A&M is set to reveal two new live mascots, both officially named “Thunder,” during Buff Branding on Aug. 21 and will be introduced before WT’s first home football game on Sept. 2, according to a press release by WT’s Communications Dept.
“WT is one of two universities that have live buffalo mascots,” President Walter V. Wendler said. “The tradition of our mascot and the traditions of our campus are important to our students, to our faculty and staff, and to the people who live in the Texas Panhandle.”
According to the release. the male calves, both about 4 months old, are under the direction of Ph.D. student Logan Burleson in the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences with the the responsibility of WT Herdsman.
The calves were donated by John Hayes, who raises bison in Bangs, and from the family of Joe Graham, father of The Texas A&M University System Regent Jay Graham. The release explained that WT received the calves when they were around 2 weeks old and they are being trained together.
“Buffaloes are herd animals, so they are much calmer and more receptive to training when they are working together,” Burleson said.
The release said that the calves are nicknames “Lightning” and “Mater” after characters in Pixar’s Route 66-themed film “Cars,” and Burleson said that the calves “are not pets and will not be treated that way.”
“They are wild animals,” he said. “This isn’t like having a dog or a horse. They aren’t domesticated, and our Herdsmen were specially chosen for their skills in working respectfully with animals.”
Both “Thunders” are set to be introduced to the students at multiple events to make them comfortable with larger crowds at footballs games, WT said.
“This age is a good time for them to be around crowds,” said Rebekah Bachman, assistant dean of the Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences. “They are still small enough to be controlled while they get used to being around people.”
According to the release, the calves will no longer run on the field, due to safety and logistical reasons.
The Herdsman organization is made of nine men and women which includes:
- Benjamin Bozeman, a junior history major from Plainview
- Joseph Gerlach, a junior animal science pre-veterinary medicine major from Decatur
- Dalton Keener, a junior agricultural business and economics major from Fredericksburg
- Kaitlyn Medeiros, a junior animal science pre-veterinary medicine major from Austin
- Makenzie Norden, a sophomore animal science pre-veterinary medicine major from Conroe
- Logan Paetzold, a sophomore agricultural business and economics major from Hereford
- Adriana Rademacher, a senior environmental science major from Splendora
- Kevin Stromberg, a senior wildlife biology major from Toluca, Ill.
- Ryan Tomaselli, a senior animal science pre-veterinary medicine major from Castroville
“Our main job is just to take care of them and to portray the spirit of WT through the buffalos,” Gerlach said.