(Stacker) – As one of the oldest colleges in the United States, it seems fitting that Yale was also one of the first higher education institutions to have a mascot. Back in 1890, an article in the Yale Daily News noted that Harper the Champion English bulldog would be on hand to represent the student-athletes at a sporting event. Two years later, in 1892, Harper was replaced by the first Handsome Dan, a purebred pup adopted by a student for $5. The rest, as they say, is history.

Today, dozens of schools around the U.S. have live animal mascots. Even with the rise of costumed mascots in the early 1960s, fans still love a live animal representative. According to Michael Lewis, a marketing professor who spoke to CNN, the reason the tradition took off so quickly and has endured for the last century and a half is quite simple. “Human beings love animals,” he told the outlet, “They’re so much more compelling than a guy in a suit.” 

Live animal mascots are so compelling that many have amassed impressive social media followings that would qualify them as influencers in their own right.

OddsSeeker compiled 10 of the most popular live animal college mascots to celebrate the tradition, based on the size of their social media followings as of June 2023. From Handsome Dan himself to CAM the Ram and Bevo, read on to learn more about the dogs, sheep, and bulls who represent some of the nation’s most prominent colleges and universities.

Handsome Dan

– Instagram followers: 42.6K followers
– School: Yale University

Mike the Tiger

– Instagram followers: 119K
– School: Louisiana State University


– Instagram followers: 53K
– School: University of Texas at Austin


– Instagram followers: 58.4K
– School: Texas A&M University


– Instagram followers: 35.9K
– School: University of Washington

CAM the Ram

– Instagram followers: 14.8K
– School: Colorado State University


– Instagram followers: 28.1K
– School: University of Colorado


– Instagram followers: 59.3K
– School: Butler University

Victor E. Bulldog

– Instagram followers: 15K
– School: California State University, Fresno


– Instagram followers: 13.3K
– School: University of Arkansas