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PETA to Kennesaw State: Stop Using Live Owl as Mascot

The animal advocacy group PETA wants Kennesaw State to stop using a live owl as a mascot. Kennesaw State officials say the bird is a source of education for kids and adults.

Stugis, the owl that is the mascot for Kennesaw State University, meets the media. Credit: Screenshot from Atlanta Journal-Constitution video
Stugis, the owl that is the mascot for Kennesaw State University, meets the media. Credit: Screenshot from Atlanta Journal-Constitution video

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has asked Kennesaw State University to stop using Sturgis, its live owl mascot, because the group believes the noise from fans at events is “terrifying” to animals.

The college began using the live mascot -- Sturgis, a Eurasian eagle owl named for its first president, Horace Sturgis -- last fall, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The animal rights group says on its website: “An arena filled with bright lights, screaming fans, flashing cameras, and loud noises is terrifying and distressing for animals." 

The website has a form letter supporters can customize and email to Kennesaw State’s athletic department. It says, “Please tell Kennesaw State University's director of athletics, Vaughn Williams, that using live animals as mascots is unacceptable and urge school officials to implement a policy banning the use of live animals at sporting events.”

School officials say they are committed to Sturgis’ safety and well-being and have a professional trainer and bird handler who works with the animal every day, AJC.com says.

“It is not, and never was, our intent to use Sturgis solely for entertainment purposes,” Vaughn Williams, KSU’s athletic director, said in the newspaper story. “… KSU will use Sturgis’ presence and association as a source of education and motivation for the children and adults who will delight in seeing him.”

The bird’s owner and trainer, Daniel Walthers, suggested the idea of a live mascot to Kennesaw State a couple of years ago, says a story on the university website.

Walthers, whose experience training and raising and taking care of birds is extensive, is paid $1,000 per appearance with the bird. Proceeds from fan photos taken with Sturgis go to support various conservation groups in the area.

Tony Bennett February 26, 2014 at 08:12 AM
Does the road traffic terrify the deer? Does the Ships terrify the oceans creatures? Does the Airplanes terrify the birds? No, they all are accustom to these noises. All the colleges that use live mascots are well taken care of. Actually, in most cases, overly taken care of. Hell, I have seen Georgia's UGA bulldog be provided a block of ice on hot days. These animals are treated like royalty. They love the attention.
Leon Jenkins February 26, 2014 at 01:50 PM
The people of PETA, need to get a life!!!! The school is trying to do something positive, like U.G.A., with UGA!!How come the people of PETA, have never said anything to people of Auburn, they have a live eagle, and at every home game, there are 80,000 screaming fans, and he is not affected!! The people of PETA, please get a life, and some brains!!!
Robert Searl February 26, 2014 at 06:35 PM
In the photo, Sturgis has that "Yo, PETA, don't mess with my gig!" look.
Fatkat February 28, 2014 at 09:20 AM
Mike Ross , nicely stated! I couldn't agree more!!
David Tiffany March 02, 2014 at 10:04 AM
While I agree, generally, with Mike Ross, he goes a bit overboard - just as the PETA people do. The owl undoubtedly lives better than other members of its species, rather than the other way around. PETA should spend its time and resources trying to protect animals that are truly being treated abusively. Mike should also tone it down. The people at PETA are not evil, but only want the best possible treatment for the animals that share our planet.

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