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Lucy The Bearcat Retires From Mascot Duty

Courtesy of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Lucy the Bearcat

A mainstay at University of Cincinnati sporting events, "Lucy the Bearcat" is retreating to private life. The Cincinnati Zoo says Lucy is retiring from her duties as a living representation of the school's mascot.The zoo reports the decision was made when the binturong's primary caregiver "noticed a change in her usual enthusiasm for getting out and going places."

Lucy has attended more than 200 UC games since she took on the duties of mascot in 2008.

"In her retirement, Lucy will spend more time eating her favorite foods – like grapes, bananas and blackberries – and enjoying daily enrichment activities in her newly expanded indoor/outdoor habitat," the zoo writes in a Facebook post. "Visitors will see more of her and will be able to observe as she learns new behaviors and participates in educational chats."

The university's athletics departmentissued a statement thanking Lucy and the zoo.

"Over the past decade, Lucy has endeared herself to our community and brought joy into the lives of children, families and fans, especially at UC," the school writes on Twitter. "Her sparkling presence will be greatly missed by Bearcats Nation, and we are grateful for the energy and spirit she provided as our mascot."

UC notes Lucy is the third binturong to serve as its live mascot.

The zoo says it is working with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to find a young bearcat to possibly serve as UC's next mascot. Spokeswoman Michelle Curley tells WVXU it could take a while.

"The AZA needs to look at the whole population and identify the right youngster for us to raise as an ambassador."

Binturongs, or bearcats, are part of the civet family and are native to South and Southeast Asia. They are said to smell like buttered popcorn.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.