HOUSTON (CW39) Shasta VI, the University of Houston’s live cougar mascot has dies at the age of 10. The cougar lived at the Houston Zoo, and passed away from a progressive spinal disease on Thursday, Aug. 4.

The animal has a staff of carnivore keepers and veterinarians at the Zoo and the Houston Cougar family.

Portrait of Shasta VI, UH's live cougar mascot staring directly at the camera with text that reads "True we'll ever be — Shasta VI — 2011–2022"
University of Houston Twitter

We join so many in mourning the loss of Shasta VI. Shasta VI was only a few months old when he arrived in Houston in December 2011.

Shasta IV was a rescue out of Washington state along with his two brothers after their mother was illegally killed by a hunter. The cougar was only five weeks old when rescued and the University of Houston said the animal had little chance of survival in the wild.

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University of Houston Alumni Association

After arriving in Houston, the local Zoo and the UofH Alumni Association entered into a partnership on March 24, 2012, introducing Shasta VI as the University’s official mascot. Shasta was the sixth live cougar to serve as UH’s mascot and the first live male. He represented the spirit and tenacity of UH’s students and alumni, and personified the resilience and strength of the University.

“Shasta’s service and symbolism of pride and school spirit will live on…”Mike Pede (’89), UH Associate VP for Alumni Relations

For the past 10 years, Shasta VI played a pivotal role in cherished university traditions. Each fall and spring prior to commencement ceremonies, Shasta VI guarded the rings of the graduating classes as well as all students who had recently received their class ring. All of the rings would be placed in a UH-themed box, which would spend the day in Shasta’s habitat. Throughout the years, UH and the zoo have partnered to celebrate special occasions, such as Shasta’s birthday parties and live appearances via webcam at UH football games.

University of Houston website