What is a Bearcat?

Bearcats Through the Years Photo Gallery

The University of Cincinnati Bearcats were born on Oct. 31, 1914. The occasion was a football game with the University of Kentucky Wildcats, a star UC player named Baehr, a creative cheerleader and a talented cartoonist.

During the second half of that hard-fought football game, UC cheerleader Norman "Pat" Lyon, building on the efforts of fullback Leonard K. "Teddy" Baehr, created the chant: "They may be Wildcats, but we have a Baehr-cat on our side."

The crowd took up the cry: "Come on, Baehr-cat!"

Cincinnati prevailed, 14-7, and the victory was memorialized in a cartoon published on the front page of the student newspaper, the weekly University News, on Nov. 3. The cartoon, by John "Paddy" Reece, depicted a bedraggled Kentucky Wildcat being chased by a creature labeled "Cincinnati Bear Cats."

The name stuck, but not immediately. Following Teddy Baehr's graduation in 1916, the name dropped out of use, at least in print, for a few years. On Nov. 15, 1919, Cincinnati played at Tennessee. Cincinnati Enquirer writer Jack Ryder's dispatch on the game was the first time that the major media called UC's teams "Bearcats." From then on, the university's teams were regularly called Bearcats.


What is a Bearcat?
The word first appeared in print circa 1889 as a synonym for the giant panda. "Bearcat" is a simple translation of the Chinese word for panda-xiong mao-which means "bear-cat."

There is no definitive example of what a Bearcat actually is. Here are two theories...

Red Panda


The Red Panda, Ailurus fulgens ("shining cat"), which is a mostly herbivorous mammal, specialized as a bamboo feeder. It is slightly larger than a domestic cat (40 - 60 cm long, 3 - 6 kg weight). The Red Panda is endemic to the Himalayas in Bhutan, southern China, India, Laos, Nepal, and Burma. Red Panda is the state animal in the Indian state of Sikkim. It is also the mascot of the Darjeeling international festivals. There is an estimated population of less than 2,500 mature individuals. Their population continues to decline due to habitat fragmentation. This species more closely resembles the actual Bearcat costumed mascot which is seen at games.

Binturong


The Binturong (Arctictis binturong), which is a species of the family Viverridae, which includes the civets and genets. It is neither a bear nor a cat, and the real meaning of the original name is lost, as the local language that gave it is extinct. Its natural habitat is in trees of forest canopy in rainforest of Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Palawan Island. In past years a live Binturong has been present at UC Athletics event, namely a former resident of the Cincinnati Zoo, who is now deceased.