CAM 24 died the morning before the Rocky Mountain Showdown Saturday, and brought young CAM 25 to center stage as Colorado State University’s new mascot.
CSU Athletic Director Joe Parker said losing CAM 24 the day of the Rocky Mountain Showdown was hard, but the University was fortunate to have young CAM 25, the half-brother to CAM 24, on the sidelines for that game.
“While we will mourn the loss of CAM (24) and celebrate his four years of service as our mascot, it’s a new beginning to have CAM 25 ready to step in to carry on the tradition and grow into the role,” Parker wrote in an e-mail to the Collegian.
Kraig Peel, CAM 24’s caregiver and agricultural sciences professor at CSU, said CAM 24’s death was unexpected, but the ram had been sick the week prior.
“After the Minnesota game last week, he was sick on Sunday and we took him immediately to the veterinary teaching hospital,” Peel said. “He was released on Wednesday doing extremely well, everything was fine.”
CAM 24 lived at Peel’s house, and Peel said the ram was watched very closely and all of his events for the week were canceled to make sure he was resting as much as possible.
When Peel checked on CAM 24 at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, he said that the ram seemed fine. But when Ram Handler and senior equine science student Kate Alexander checked on CAM 24 a little before 10 a.m., she said that the ram was not feeling well.
Alexander said they called the veterinary resident from the CSU Vet Teaching Hospital, who cares for CAM, and the vet arrived at Peel’s residence at around 10:10 a.m. Shortly after that, CAM 24 passed away from old age.
CAM 24 was six years old, according to Peel, and had been with CSU since he was two. The average lifespan for a ram is six to eight years old.
Alexander, who is in her second year as a Ram Handler, said it was tough losing CAM 24 on the day of the Rocky Mountain Showdown. The Showdown was the biggest event and first football game CAM 25 has attended, according to Alexander, so the five handlers working that day had to pay close attention to the new mascot.
Senior communication student and second-year Ram Handler Sarah Dideriksen said that the whole day was an adrenalin rush, from packing up the trailer to the death of CAM 24 to getting excited for CAM 25.
“Personally, I think it was a bit more of just a rush trying to get through the day before even processing what had happened,” Alexander said. “We were mainly focused on getting through it and making the best of everything and making sure (CAM 25) had a good experience at that first game.”
Alexander said there was little preparation they had to do in order to get CAM 25 ready for his first game appearance. He had already eaten, so they rinsed him off and scrubbed his face a little.
The biggest thing they had to do to get CAM 25 game-ready was modifying one of the CAM halters to make it smaller to fit the smaller ram.
“CAM 25 did great, he is going to be a wonderful mascot for us,” Dideriksen said. “He has really stepped up, he has a really good attitude and good behavior that we look for and he is liking his job so far.”
CAM 25 took the place of CAM 24 at Grill the Buffs this year, which helped him acclimate to his role as mascot.
“That was a good experience for him to be around people, getting used to being handled, riding in the trailer,” Dideriksen said. “That was really good timing because we were able to see his behavior and realize that he was capable of stepping into this role (as mascot).”
Peel said they chose not to run CAM 25 at the Showdown because he is still young and it was his first game.
“I’m not intimidated by the buffalo at all with a big ram, but I just felt like if we brought that little ram out it would detract from our football team and from what they were doing,” Peel said.
According to Peel, the other two lambs that were born this spring were not the quality and stature that Peel expects a CSU mascot to be. CAM 25, born March 12, 2015, is CAM 24’s half-brother.
CAM 25 has begun some of the training in order to become mascot-ready, since rams are naturally pretty skittish, according to Alexander.
“Sheep are not used to wearing halters like that necessarily, or leading like that,” Alexander said. “We’ve been prepping him with bigger and bigger events.”
Alexander said the handlers hope to begin practicing running with CAM 25 soon.
“That’s a whole other thing, to be moving at speed but not be scared,” Alexander said. “That’s something we’re going to hopefully start in the next couple weeks before our next football game, so that he can maybe run at the football game.”
Didriksen said that CAM 25 is “spunky” and feels “like a hot-shot.”
Peel said that CAM 24 “tolerated” the handlers, but CAM 25 is loving the attention and is very friendly.
“Like Sarah’s (Didriksen) analogy of CAM 25: he’s that rambunctious teenager, he’s got his cap on backwards, he’s got his shorts hanging down,” Peel said.
Collegian Assistant News Editor Sady Swanson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @sadyswan.