December 2, 2022

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Peter the Anteater Statue in Irvine, California

Bronze statue commemorating UC Irvine’s strange and beloved mascot, Peter the Anteater.

The University of California, Irvine, is home to many things, but one of its most famous attributes is also one of its strangest: It holds the unique distinction of being the only university in the world with an anteater for a mascot.

Peter the Anteater became UCI’s mascot in 1965 after of a vote by the student body in which the anteater won 56% of the vote, beating out the likes of roadrunners, unicorns, and centaurs. The anteater’s victory came as a result of a student-run campaign, in which the cartoon anteater from the comic strip “B.C.” was suggested (one holdover from the comic strip: the sound effect for when an anteater catches an ant, “ZOT!”, became a common chant at sports events).

There are actually a half-dozen different Peter statues distributed around the campus, each with its own unique take on the ant-loving mammal. The one pictured above, standing outside of the Bren Events Center, is one of the most popular, and is dressed up in a cap and gown each year to celebrate graduation. There are, however, several others clustered around the Student Center, including an anthropomorphized Peter lounging on a bench, decked out in sunglasses and beach attire, and another standing nearby.

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