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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.

Carrie Hollins February 24, 2014 at 02:34 PM
Really? I bet that bird lives better than most. Ridiculous.
Frank Anastasia February 24, 2014 at 02:37 PM
Can we all agree the people associated with peta are a bunch of annoying loons?
Brett Frank February 24, 2014 at 02:44 PM
I think we should release people involved with PETA into the wild; they seem to be unable to adapt to civilization, are "terrified" by bright lights and loud noises, and will probably feel more at ease free roaming the countryside. I mean, it's just completely ethically wrong to force people to live in harmony with other people and animals at the same time.
Aileen Wyckoff February 24, 2014 at 03:11 PM
Wait. Isn't this the group that rescues dogs and cats and then murders them? I don't understand the 'success' of this group. If people want to support animal rights and to protect animals, support no-kill shelters, not this band of nuts.
asimpson23 February 24, 2014 at 03:16 PM
Cynical perhaps, but do you suppose that PETA has heard that Kennesaw College donates money to local organizations and PETA is trying to get a donation? Something like 'hush money". Whoo Whoo?
Becca February 24, 2014 at 03:40 PM
PETA = People Eating Tasty Animals :)
Ira February 24, 2014 at 03:41 PM
People Eating Tasty Animals... PETA has no credibility. They are so out of touch with reality. A real Joke.
Ron Tallon February 24, 2014 at 04:11 PM
Simply respond by saying that they should just take a flying leap. BTW, that is a fine looking Owl.
Charles Allen February 25, 2014 at 06:19 AM
I am a lifelong member of PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals) and I will never give up my membership!!!
Mike Kuring February 25, 2014 at 07:44 AM
I'm gathering the CDC and Emory University must have cured all the plagues and no longer need animals for their research, freeing up PETA to focus on the KSU owl.
Eileen Alberstadt February 25, 2014 at 07:59 AM
Hey PETA PEOPLE, you really need to get real! KSU (Kennesaw State University) has an OWL for a Mascot and you are raising an issue because it is live? Are you for real? Does the University of Georgia parade around with a stuffed English Bulldog or is it Live? Wake up Peta! Always ready to start another issue! Trust me, our UGA Mascot is very much alive and well cared for just like the Owl for KSU! PS: Auburn has a beautiful Eagle that is very well taken care of! Take your issues elsewhere!
janh999 February 25, 2014 at 08:14 AM
That bird is someone's pet & probably lives better than most ppl.
Donna February 25, 2014 at 08:49 AM
I thought I heard recently that ALL live college mascots were being removed from the sidelines.?.?.?
mmloubailey February 25, 2014 at 10:01 AM
This is ridiculous! The owl is a mascot. He represents KSU in all activates and is part of the school and the school family. Who ever thought this up is apparently not a animal lover and has nothing better to do with their time. Go somewhere else!!!
JustMeCitizen February 25, 2014 at 11:56 AM
Donna, there's no initiative to remove live mascots. Boston College just brought back a live bald eagle mascot after 47 years. These mascots generate millions of dollars for the schools and this is unlikely to change anytime soon.
Larry Burdge February 25, 2014 at 10:42 PM
I would love to see PETA try to get Auburn to stop using its live eagle at the football games! Good luck getting that to happen. War Eagle!!!
Mike Ross February 25, 2014 at 11:41 PM
Charles Allen, I'm sure the USAF Academy would gladly give up their Falcon as well if you asked really nice. They would probably enjoy having all the PETA folks enjoy the Flyover before the game. The noise of the F-16s doesn't bother the Falcon but it sure scares the hell of the Taliban and those who hate our country. If you really want to fight for something PETA folks, Join the US Armed Forces and fight with those who give you your right of free speech, the US Military. I'm sure you'd rather fight for the rights of the grey headed snipe turtle than put your life on the line for your own freedom. Let someone else fight for what's important. Sturgis is a great Mascot and lives a great life. Let well enough alone unless you decide to fight, for real, for your opinions instead of letting others do the dirty work so your First Amendment rights are protected. The First Amendment is a wonderful thing to say and hide behind. The next time you do though, remember the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who protect your right to be so innane and riduculous. Find a better use of your time like working at the VA as a volunteer, a Geriatric hospiice, or take 15 minutes and walk through the Childrens Cancer Ward at Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta. One, they wil show you dignity and honor which you seem somehow to have lost in your upbringing. God Bless you, You need it! Turn your life to something that really matters.
Ira February 26, 2014 at 06:38 AM
Mike Ross, nicely spoken. As a Viet Nam Veteran, your comments ring loud and true.
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.
Laura 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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