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SIUE Cougar History

How SIUE Chose a Cougar Mascot

  1. October 1966, Chris Henderson, an SIUE student, submitted the idea of having a cougar mascot.
  2. Fall quarter of 1967 the administration and student body of SIUE agreed to obtain a live cougar mascot for the following reasons:
    1. To build recognition of SIUE as a university;
    2. To build morale and instill school spirit and unity in the students; and
    3. To separate SIUE from its sister campus Carbondale and make it unique.
  3. The Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity formed a committee, headed by Walter Parill to locate a live cougar. The committee turned up a lead at a constitution convention at the University of Houston, Texas. Richard Poston, of the Delta Omega chapter of APO, said he knew of a cougar cub which would be available at little or no cost to SIUE. The cougar was donated to SIUE by Mrs. Nonette Lewis in memory of her son, Thomas Blackshear, who was killed in a plane crash at the age of 31.

Chimega's Life at SIUE

  • February 19, 1968 - Chimega first arrived on campus. She weighed approximately 65 pounds and was 4 feet long from head to tail. She was housed at the Hawthorne Animal Hospital in Edwardsville.
  • Springfest (May, 1968) - Mary Ann Kucinick submitted the winning entry in a "Name of Cougar" contest held during Springfest activities. Her entry was "Chimega."
  • August 23, 1968 - Chimega was declawed and defanged at the Hawthorne Animal Hospital. She still had 26 remaining teeth.
  • January, 1969 - a volunteer organization, Cougar Guard, was formed to take over caring for the cougar. Originally only males, who could handle the cougar while she was on a leash, were allowed in the organization.
  • Parent's Day (November. 1969) - Cougarettes made their first official appearance.
  • June, 1970 - Chimega appeared in the theatre production, "Carnival".
  • March 5, 1972 - The St. Louis Globe Democrat ran an article on Chimega. Other publications followed with featured articles on Chimega.
  • February, 1974 - Chimega was mated with Jack and Pat Kibler's cougar, "Mai Tai" (Hawaiian for "the best").
  • May 3, 1974 - Two cubs were born at the Kibler's. One was stillborn, the other a male cub named "Michega" died from aspiration on food 14 hours later.
  • Spring Quarter, 1976 - Cougarettes title was changed to "Aides" by a vote in the Cougar Guard.
  • On August 4, 1976 Chimega appeared in a TV commercial for a local Lincoln-Mercury dealer.
  • On August 26, 1976 Chimega was interviewed live on WSIE-FM, in honor of her 9th birthday.
  • On March 12, 1985 Chimega died at the age of seventeen. Fun Facts about Chimega
  • Chimega was originally named Daniel by Blackshear. He changed the name to Danie when he discovered the cub was a female. Chimega means "cougar" in American Indian (Apache).
  • Chimega's diet consisted of chicken necks and raw liver. She was fed Monday through Saturday. To maintain her appetite she was not fed on Sunday. The amount she was fed varied with the weather and amount of exercise she received.
  • Chimega was taken to the vet at least twice a year. She received a rabies and distemper sshot yearly. Her vet was Dr. Gilliatt who was located at the Cross Keys Animal Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Chimega's activities ranged from her daily walks around campus (at least one hour in duration) to appearances at various school events including sports and social activities. She participated in many parades and some social functions such as the Illinois State Fair and Bible schools.
  • Chimega's cage was 30 feet in diameter with a white geodesic dome designed by R. Buchminister Fuller. Her holding cage served as her temporary quarters until the permanent home was completed.
  • Chimega was a member of the Great American cat family. (Species name: Felis Concoulour Cougar). Other names for cougar included Puma, Mountain Lion, Panther, and Catamount. The normal life span for a cougar is from 12 to 15 years.
  • Reason for mating Chimega included to put her on a more regular heat cycle, to improve her temperament and various health reasons. Gestation for cougars is 96 days.
  • Chimega was 6 feet in length and weighed between 100 and 110 pounds.
  • Membership in the Cougar Guard was open to any SIUE student interested in working with the campus mascot and who could complete the preliminary training program. Kyna's History Prior to SIUE
  • June 1, 1982 - Four cougar cubs were born at the home of Ron and Peggy Stocksick in Florissant, Missouri. Keyna's father was named Fritz and her mother was named Rowdy. Both of her parents were owned by the Stocksicks. Kyna was tge 8th generation in captivity in her family.
  • July 20, 1982 - At the age of 7 weeks, Kyna was purchased by SIUE for $500. Kyna was picked up by the Cougar Guard and taken to a private home where she was cared for by Guardsmen until she was old enough to live on campus. She weighed 6 pounds and was 25 inches long from head to tail.
  • August 30, 1982 - Kyna was declawed at the Cross Keys Animal Clinic in Florissant, Missouri by Dr. Gilliatt. Kyna's Life at SIUE
  • January 22, 1983 - Kyna moved to her permanent home located behind the University Center.
  • October 7, 1985 - Kyna underwent surgery to remove pieces of a soccer ball she had eaten. Six inches of her large intestine had to be removed due to punctures to the lining.
  • October 15, 1985 - Kyna underwent a second surgery because she had developed an infection around her incision.
  • December 1, 1986 - Due to liability issues, Kyna was restricted from public appearances.
  • June 26, 1987 - Kyna was donated to M/M Exoctics of Metropolis, Illinois. The following day, the cage that had served as the home of the cougar mascots was demolished The decision to transfer Kyna off-campus sparked a flurry of protests from SIUE students, faculty, staff and alumni.
  • Kyna is a Welch meaning Graceful or Wise Lady.
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