14 Bowl Game Ticket Information
MEMBER SIGN IN
Don't have an account? Click Here
Pac-12 Networks Switch Now Ad

Wilbur The Wildcat's Historic Beginning
Wildcats Nickname
Wilbur the Wildcat Mascot
Wilma The Wildcat Mascot
Remembering the founders

Wilbur The Wildcat's Historic Beginning
On April 17, 1916, the UA's live mascot Rufus Wildcat (named after then UA President Rufus Bernard Von KleinSmidt) met with an untimely death. Decades later, after being without a mascot, UA students Richard Heller, '65, and John Paquette, '61 developed the idea for a costumed human mascot. On November 7, 1959, Wilbur the Wildcat was "born," making his debut at the UA vs. Texas Tech football game. The new mascot, portrayed by Ed Stuckenoff, `64, was an immediate hit.

The original costume was head-to-toe fur with an American flag patch on the left shoulder. It was cartoon-style with big round eyes, a button nose, and a curved black line for a mouth. A few years later, in an attempt to look more "human", an upgraded version of Wilbur eliminated the fur body and replaced it with an Arizona sweater and pair of slacks. This look lasted until the 1970's, during which Wilbur underwent a "Rhinestone Cowboy" phase. In this costume, Wilbur donned a vest and blue jeans, cowboy boots, a holster and gun, and an oversized paper-mache head. This look lasted until 1982, when Wilbur re-acquired his fur.

Since the early 1980's, Wilbur the Wildcat's character and image has undergone various style changes while maintaining a "furry" body. Today, Wilbur, along with his counterpart and wife, Wilma the Wildcat, and the Arizona Cheerleaders, is part of the Spirit Program within Arizona Athletics Department. Wilbur is not only present at all UA home football and men's basketball games, but he is also involved in many aspects of campus life. In addition to campus commitments, Wilbur and Wilma the Wildcat spend a great deal of time working with local community organizations and non-profit groups. In the school year 1999-2000, the Arizona Mascots appeared at more than 100 public appearances and events.

Wildcats Nickname
The Wildcats got their name after a hard fought football game against the Occidental College Tigers on November 7, 1914. A Los Angeles Times columnist wrote that the Arizona team "Showed the fight of Wildcats."

Wilbur the Wildcat Mascot

  • The University of Arizona's original mascot was actually a live bobcat, purchased by the freshman football team from army blacksmith F.W. Fawkins, for $9.41. The team presented the bobcat, then called Tom Easter, as a gift to the student body, to whom he was first introduced at an assembly on October 18, 1915.
  • Shortly there after he was officially named Rufus Arizona, after then UA President Rufus Bernard Von KleinSmid.
  • Rufus Arizona had an untimely death on April 17, 1916. As reported by the Arizona Wildcat, "while endeavoring to perform gymnastics stunts in the limbs of a tree to which he was tied, Rufus Arizona . . . fell and was hung." The original Rufus passed on, but successors followed. (Live mascots were used off and on between the early 1900's and the late 1950's.)
  • Decades later, UA students Richard Heller, '62, and John Paquette, '60 presented the idea for a costumed human mascot. On November 7, 1959, Wilbur the Wildcat was "born," making his first appearance at the UA vs. Texas Tech football game. He was an immediate hit.
  • The original costume was head-to-toe fur with an American flag patch on the left shoulder. This costume was very "cartoony." It had big rounded eyes, a button nose and a curved black line for a mouth.
  • A few years later, in an attempt to take on a more humanistic look, an upgraded version of Wilbur eliminated the fur body and replaced it with an Arizona sweater and pair of slacks. This look lasted until the 1970's, during which Wilbur underwent a "Rhinestone Cowboy" phase. He had an oversized, paper mache head, and donned blue jeans, a vest, cowboy boots and a holster and gun.
  • This look lasted until 1982, when Wilbur re-acquired his fur. Since then, the concept of a mascot head and a furry body has been maintained through various style changes.

  • Today, Wilbur is part of the Spirit Program at the University of Arizona, which also includes Wilma the Wildcat and the Cheerleaders. As part of the Spirit Program, Wilbur is not only at virtually every UA home game, but he is also very involved in the Tucson community doing appearances and spending time with kids of all ages.

  • Wilbur's primary responsibilities are Football, and Men's Basketball.

  • Two UA male students portray Wilbur.

  • With the exception of a small scholarship ($200) they do it all for the experience.

  • In, 2006, Wilbur and Wilma renewed their vowed at the ASU to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary.

Wilma The Wildcat Mascot

  • Wilma was created when costume designers were attempting to make another costume for Wilbur. They created Wilma instead.
  • Wilma the Wildcat made her first appearance on March 1, 1986. She was on a blind date with Wilbur.
  • Wilbur and Wilma were married on November 21, 1986 before the Arizona-Arizona State football game.
  • Wilma's primary responsibilities include Women's Volleyball and Women's Basketball.
  • Two UA female students portray Wilma.
  • With the exception of a small scholarship ($200) they do it all for the experience.
  • In, 2006, Wilbur and Wilma renewed their vowed at the ASU to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary.

Remembering the founders
It has been more than 40 years since Ed Stuckenhoff, John Paquette, and Richard Heller created the tradition of Wilbur the Wildcat. Mr. Stuckenhoff passed away on September 27, 2001 in Buffalo, Wyoming. Wilbur's co-creator, Richard Heller, '65, passed away in 1984. John Paquette, '61, Wilbur's sole surviving creator, currently lives in San Jose, California.

The Athletics Department wishes to thank Mr. Stuckenhoff and the co-creators of Wilbur the Wildcat for their talent and innovation in creating a tradition that continues today. The Arizona Mascots remain an essential part of the Spirit Program at the University of Arizona and an integral part of the university's college atmosphere.




                  

                  

                  

                  
 
                  



Arizona Cheerleading
PLACEHOLDER
Cancer Awareness Campaign
Where is the world is Brian Jeffries?
Weekly Fan Poll
Dex
Live Stats