After some 250 appearances and five years as CSUâ€™s mascot, CAM the Ram is looking toward retirement.
CAM stands for Colorado A&M, the universityâ€™s original name, and has been the official mascot for CSU since 1947. Since then, CSU has had more than 20 rams flaunt their colors.
CSUâ€™s current CAM has reached a whopping 7 years old and within the next year or so will begin transitional retirement. The new ram has already been chosen and will be brought to CSU sometime this summer.
While 7 years doesnâ€™t sound old, itâ€™s pushing the upper limits of a ramâ€™s lifespan, said Kraig Peel, an assistant professor in the department of Animal Sciences.
â€œEight or 9 years old is pushing 90 in human years,â€ Peel said.
Peel works closely with the current CAM and chose CAMâ€™S replacement. As a cousin to CAM, the new ram shares many of the exemplary qualities of CSUâ€™s mascot, Peel said.
In 2005, the CAM won the National Rambouillet Champion for his high quality body form, wool and representation of his breed. Rambouillet is a type of domesticated sheep. This experience as an exhibition animal creates an ideal ram for CSUâ€™s mascot, Peel said.
â€œWe look for breed character and a ram that epitomizes CSU,â€ Peel said. â€œHeâ€™s big and tough and able to get things done.â€
While CAM is big and tough, heâ€™s a puppy dog at heart. Elisa Shackelton, director of Colorado Outreach for the CSU Alumni Association, described his calm and laid-back disposition as comparable to a big, friendly dog.
â€œHis personality allows for anyone who meets him to connect with the school mascot,â€ said Kendra Bolton, a senior health and exercise major, and one of CAMâ€™s Handlers.
Bolton, who has been a Ram Handler for two years, said CAM doesnâ€™t like to stand alone, and will often times follow her. He also nuzzles her and rubs against her jeans affectionately, she said.
Jim Magnuson, a senior animal science major and Ram Handler, described CAM as a people ram, and suggested that this might be due to the Rambouilletâ€™s tendency to flock. Due to his continued and long-time exposure to people, Magnuson said, CAM likely identifies his flock as people.
Aside from being a Ram Handler, Magnuson also is one of the few individuals qualified to drive CAMâ€™s tricked-out trailer. Individuals have to go through additional training to drive the 50-foot-long rig.
Equipped with two and half inches of foam and three to four inches of shavings, CAM finds himself quite comfortable for any road trip he may make. In addition, materials are left in the trailer to make an impromptu pen for him to stretch his legs.
â€œWe take a lot of pains to take really good care of him,â€ Peel said.
The trailer and the truck used to transport CAM were donated to CAM and the Ram Handler program by the Henry/Maxey family and Davidson Gebhardt in 2007. Now, the program uses a truck donated by the Rocky Mountain and Denver Metro Ford Dealers.
Shackelton, who calls CAM â€œCSUâ€™s own little celebrity,â€ encourages students to apply to become a Ram Handler for the coming school year.
Ram Handlers are responsible for a variety of CAM related tasks including grooming, transporting and polishing up CAM for show. Handlers also gain valuable contacts inside and outside the University.
â€œThe wide range of people you meet makes the position very rewarding,â€ Magnuson said.
Magnuson, Bolton and eight other handlers get to hang out on the sidelines of football games, travel with CAM to his appearances and serve as ambassadors for the CSU to Alumni and Ram fans of all kinds. Applications for new handlers are available on the Alumni Associationâ€™s Web site and are due May 5.
CAMâ€™s permanent residence is at the Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center, but on days he needs to make an appearance in town, CAM can be found hanging out at the Livestock Pavillion on Pitkin Street.
Staff Writer Allison Welter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Apply to be a cam the ram handler
-Be a full-time student at CSU
-Be, and remain, in good academic standing
-Be willing and able to perform required duties
-Applications are available on the Alumni Associationâ€™s Web site and are due May 5. Two letters of recommendation are required. Visit http://www.today.colostate.edu/story.aspx?id=3645 to get the application.