Fawning over fauna

    An intruder walked among us in spring 2012: an elusive, knobby-kneed canine.

    The “Campus Fox,” or “Northwestern Fox,” as it came to be called, wandered unknowingly into a world of celebrity. By showing itself on Northwestern grounds, the fox captured the attention of a campus desiring distraction from impending midterms and finals. The young fox cubs frolicking around South Campus enchanted students like a cat video study break never could. The foxes even spawned a long-running Twitter account, @NorthwesternFox, and made the news on NBCChicago.

    But the Campus Fox and (what might have been) its kits aren’t the first animal travelers to have captivated the student body. Take a look at some other famous Northwestern critters:

    Furry Faux Pas

    “Mascot is Bear,” The Daily Northwestern announced on Oct. 3, 1923.

    Before then, Northwestern sports teams were known merely as “the Purple.” The administration thought having a color for a mascot might lack intrigue for the students, so an animal was chosen—specifically a bear cub. He was “Bruin” to The Daily near the beginning, “Teddy” later on and “Furpaw” sometime after he ceased being Northwestern’s mascot and retired in the Lincoln Park Zoo. Bruin, a “real sure, go getter of a bear” according to members of his welcoming committee, started his single-season reign with terror. “Bruin was peeved and when a bear is peeved he is peeved,” The Daily reported. Northwestern students hoped to get the cub to act like a “gentleman,” giving him a home in the cellar of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house, but Bruin found more appeal in traipsing around campus, rustling up gossip like a story in which he may or may not have eaten Sigma Nu’s cook.

    Later in the 1923 football sea- son, after a string of losses, players blamed the bear as the “harbinger” of their woes, Billy McElwain, captain of the football team, told The Daily in its Nov. 22, 1923 issue. Tim Lowry, a center on the team, was said to have proposed “tossing [Bruin] on top of the annual Homecoming bonfire Friday night and serving bear chops to the players.” Bruin left his post soon after that, and Northwestern began its journey to becoming the Wildcats.

    Co-nesting Cooper’s Hawks

    In 2007, two Conservation Biology 347 students surreptitiously tracked the mating habits and everyday goings-on of a resident pair of co-nesting Cooper’s hawks. The monogamous couple had recently moved into an evergreen tree just north of Annie May Swift Hall, according to a report by the students, Matt Combs and Joey Knelman. Despite the constant bustle below—on average, about 76 people passed through the birds’ habitat during five-minute “passing times between classes,” according to the report—the unnamed hawks wouldn’t budge. Strangely intrusive feeding habits also gave the animals a reputation with the student body. Knelman and Combs describe a gory recurring circumstance during that year: The male hawk would careen down from a tree onto a pathway, disregarding any humans in the vicinity, to scoop up a songbird eating crumbs and minding its own business. The hawks wouldn’t eat squirrels, despite their abundance on campus, but warblers and other small birds were fair game.

    Brando the Kresge Dog

    Brando can’t talk, but the 6-year-old Australian Labradoodle can still command the attention of any and every person passing him as he lopes through the halls of Kresge and into Crowe Café.

    “It’s Brando!” one woman exclaims, bending to smooch him on the flat top of his skull, possibly worn down from long, arduous days of receiving pets and head rubs. Though his owner, Classics Professor Emeritus Daniel Garrison, no longer works in his first-floor Kresge office, the pair still makes frequent visits to their old home. For six years Brando was a fluffy beacon of calm for students and faculty, accompanying Garrison nearly every day. “People come for a doggie fix,” Garrison says, responding to the insistent nudge of Brando’s paw by petting the dog while he speaks. “A lot of people … miss their dogs, and so he’s a substitute. Sometimes I’ll come back and there’ll be a couple of people lying on the floor with Brando.”


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