The Life and Times of Peter the Anteater

By Ashley Alvarez

Commencement is in the air!

As Peter the Anteater prepares to bid the graduating class of 2018 farewell, he concurrently prepares to welcome the incoming class of 2022, and so grows the Anteater family. If you’ve heard of UCI, then you know that the title and Anteaters are a package deal.

Peter the Anteater is more than just a mascot. Over the years Peter has been endowed with countless student experiences, resulting in the development of Peter as an identity. University of California students are homogeneously grouped under the colors blue and gold, making our mascot the distinctive identifier of our university.

“I think it’s cool that we’re Anteaters,” says fourth-year English major Tori Sazio. “You’re always hearing of the same mascot, but the Anteater, it’s my favorite. It makes UCI unique; we have a unique mascot.”

This also seemed to be the popular consensus on Peter in 1965 when UCI was looking to elect its mascot. The search was prompted 53 years ago, after the UCI men’s water polo team beat Cal Poly in front of a crowd of 900 students. It was in that pivotal, prideful moment that the university realized they were lacking a mascot that could hone and chanel all that school spirit. The administration proposed candidates, such as roadrunners, centaurs and unicorns, that left UCI water polo player’s Pat Glasgow and Bob Ernst feeling unimpressed.

As a result, they proposed and lobbied for the Anteater’s spot on the ballot. Both students had found inspiration for the mascot in the late Johnny Hart’s B.C. comic strip. Hart’s comic strip featured the anteater plotting innovative and cunning schemes by which to trap ants, bellowing his war cry, “ZOT!”

Fourth-year math major Rachelle Reiff shares Glasgow’s and Ernst’s enthusiasm; she is excited about having a mascot straight out of Harts comics.

“I like the Anteater, and knowing it comes from a comic makes me happy,” Reiff says. Too bad UCI administration didn’t share that same excitement back in the day. The administration was skeptical of the anteater as a mascot and worried it wouldn’t share the ferocity of the popular UC Bear. Glasgow argued, as students do now, that the anteater can be ferocious in its own way.

Anteaters are usually calm, solitary animals. However, if they are backed into a corner, the anteater is able to stand on its hind legs and use its a tail as a balance. Once the anteater stands erect, he uses his long nails to scratch at predators. Furthermore, Glasgow made the swaying argument, that the anteater fit the trend of the UC bear mascot, as he was occasionally referred to as the “ant-bear.”

Third-year math major Raul Sotelo argues the anteater is perfect as he is.

“It doesn’t need to be more ferocious or a bear,” he says. “The mascot is something we build. It’s not just an anteater; it’s UCI, it’s what we put into it over the years.”

In essence, Peter is an amalgamation of all the students that have walked the halls of UCI. Our mascot is a reflection of the school’s strong and thriving student body.

Peter, receiving 56 percent of the vote, beat the unicorns, sea hawks, toros, bison, centaurs, roadrunners and “none of these.” He continues to Zot On!