Ralphie IV, the Colorado live buffalo mascot who roamed the sidelines from 1998 to 2008, died Sunday at the age of 19 due to liver failure, the school announced.
"She was ready to go today," John Graves, her caretaker, said. "It was very peaceful. Almost 20 is fairly old for a buffalo ... It really is a sad day for the Ralphie program, the university and for CU fans across the nation. Fans knew Ralphie IV for her right horn that grew crooked, and the handler that had the privilege to work with her knew her for her unique personality."
Ralphie IV, nicknamed "Rowdy" by ranch hands, was donated to Colorado by media mogul Ted Turner in 1998. Her backstory was filled with hardship: Ralphie IV was separated from her mother when she was 1 month old, found in the jaws of a coyote with bite marks around her neck, and bottle fed for four months to recover from that nearly fatal attack. After returning to health, Ralphie IV wouldn't bond with the herd, so she was donated to the university.
Ralphie IV led the Buffs onto the field 75 times during her 10-year career. Following her retirement in 2008, she represented the university at events like the Colorado State Fair.
"She had a great career at the university and enjoyed all the times she led the football team onto the field, both at Folsom and at away stadiums," Graves said. "After retirement, she lived a great life grazing away in her pastures. We lost a great buffalo, a great mascot, and a great icon."