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SPIRIT resting.png
Gender Male
Dallas Texas Zoo
Seneca Park Zoo
Occupation Mascot
Alma mater Rochester Institute of Technology

SPIRIT (an abbreviation for Student Pride In RIT) was a bengal tiger purchased by a group of students at RIT to serve as the university's mascot.


Share of School Spirit
Share of School Spirit and Tradition

In 1963, Roger Kramer decided to organize a committee to plan the purchase of a live tiger to serve as the RIT mascot. He first pitched the idea to his fraternity brothers Skip Millor and David Page from Alpha Phi Omega and brought in two mutual friends Jim Black and Denis Kitchen to form the Tiger Committee.

They organized and then presented their proposal to A. Stephen Walls, then the Director of Student Activities and the advisor to the fraternity. Mr. Walls found the idea intriguing and contacted the Seneca Park Zoo to see what carrying out the proposal it would entail. Louis DiSabato, the Director of the Zoo, informed them that only a licensed facility could purchase a tiger, but if the students were able to raise the money the Zoo would be willing to purchase and take care of the animal.[1]

The cost of a bengal tiger cub at the time was $1,000. The Tiger Committee, with the support of Mr. Walls, requested a loan for the tiger's price from the Student Council. After the loan was approved, the Tiger Committee decided that they would try to raise the money by selling $1 shares of "school spirit and tradition" to students, staff, faculty and others.

The fundraiser proved successful, generating $300 in the first week and the remaining shares quickly sold out once the tiger that would soon be named SPIRIT arrived on campus.[2] The tiger's arrival on campus on October 30, 1963 was a major event, with over 50 people forming a motorcade to the airport to greet the tiger as he got off the plane just after midnight the night before. WITR broadcasted the welcoming of the tiger live from the tarmac, even though it was two hours after they normally stopped broadcasting at the time.[3]

Working year

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Upon SPIRIT's death, RIT skinned the tiger. His pelt is now located in the RIT Archives on the third floor of the Wallace Library.


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  1. RIT Archives. (2010). Spirit of RIT. Retrieved from:
  2. Kramer, J. (2010). The Story of SPIRIT. Brick City Ambassadors. Retrieved from:
  3. Reporter. (1963). Furry Feline Cub Captures Hearts of Awaiting Crowd. November 8, 1963.

External links