Then: Reporting on the Arizona–Occidental game in 1914, Los Angeles Times student reporter Bill Henry wrote that the UA team “showed the fight of wildcats.” The characterization stuck; the team had not only a name, but a mascot. The first mascot was a live bobcat named Rufus, a gift from the freshman class in 1915. Bill Henry, who had a long and distinguished career at the LA Times, was honored as the “Father of the Arizona Wildcats” at UA’s 50th Homecoming in 1964.
Now: It is hard to believe with all the fervent Wildcat excitement Wilbur inspires every time he takes to the field that he began life in two dimensions, as a cartoon character created by Bob White for the popular 1940s UA humor magazine, Kitty Kat. Wilbur the Wildcat — portrayed by Ed Stuckenhoff in a costume designed by John Paquette and Dick Heller, all UA students — debuted at a UA-Texas Tech football game on Nov. 7, 1959. A “blind date” with Wilma in 1986 introduced a new celebrity to the UA community. Between them, Wilbur and Wilma make more than 100 public appearances, on and off campus, each year.