A new buffalo will be roaming Folsom Field next fall.
Ralphie V, the University of Colorado’s live buffalo mascot, has officially retired and will make her final appearance Saturday during the Colorado football team’s home finale against Washington, according to the university.
Ralphie will be in attendance for the game, but won’t lead the team on the field as is tradition. The 13-year-old buffalo is reportedly in good health, although her handlers have had a harder time controlling her when running on the field. She has been held back from running five times since 2008, including the last two home games against USC and Stanford.
"Ralphie V has served the department and the university well," Colorado athletic director Rick George said in a statement. "She has been a very special buffalo and has truly been adored by many. We hope she lives for many years to come and look forward to finding her successor."
A buffalo has led Colorado onto the field 355 times across 53 seasons, including 296 times at Folsom Field in Boulder. Since the Ralphie Program started, there have been just 13 home games without a live buffalo run. The program is 100% donor-funded, with an operating budget of more than $60,000 annually.
Ralphie V led the charge 76 times since her first appearance Sept. 6, 2008. She is the second-longest serving Ralphie, behind only the original Ralphie, who ran at 78 games over 12 seasons.
"Ralphie V was our first Ralphie to serve in the age of social media," said John Graves, the Ralphie Program manager since 2015 who was also a handler when Ralphie V began to run. "Thanks to her, we were able to incorporate an educational aspect to the Ralphie Program and hundreds of thousands of fans were able to meet her and learn more about her and buffalo in general, while countless more learned via social media. As one of the biggest and fastest Ralphies, her love for running and power was showcased every home game during her career. It's almost like she knew she was the queen of campus and she loved to show that fact off when she ran onto the field and at her public appearances."
Ralphie V will live on the same ranch in retirement, while she will also continue to make public appearances while Ralphie VI is being groomed in 2020.