University of Houston mascot Shasta VI dies from progressive spinal disease, school says

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Friday, August 5, 2022 1:21PM
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HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The University of Houston announced Friday their live cougar mascot died from a progressive spinal disease on Thursday, Aug. 4.

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The mascot, Shasta VI, was only a few months old when he arrived at the Houston Zoo in December 2011, according to a UH press release.

Shortly after his arrival in the Bayou City, the Houston Zoo and the University of Houston Alumni Association entered into a partnership on March 24, 2012, introducing Shasta VI as the University's official mascot, the university said.

UH said Shasta was the sixth live cougar to serve as their mascot and the first live male.

Shasta IV at the Houston Zoo during his 2nd birthday celebration, Sept. 2013. Photo courtesy of the University of Houston.

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"He represented the spirit and tenacity of UH's students and alumni, and personified the resilience and strength of the University," UH said in the release. "We join so many in mourning the loss of Shasta VI."

For the past 10 years, UH said Shasta VI played a pivotal role in cherished university traditions, including guarding the rings of the graduating classes, as well as the students who have recently received their class rings. All of the rings would be placed in a UH-themed box, which would spend the day in Shasta's habitat.

Throughout the years, UH and the zoo have partnered to celebrate special occasions, such as Shasta's birthday parties and live appearances via webcam at UH football games, the university said.