UNT now home to two albino squirrels
DENTON (UNT), Texas -- "Baby's Baby," the University of North Texas' legendary albino squirrel, is believed to have surfaced in a new home on campus -- and this time, with a companion.
After weeks of watching for and tracking the pink-eyed little fellow, K.T. Shiue, computer support specialist and webmaster for the university's North Texas Institute for Educators on the Visual Arts, spotted the squirrel that is believed to "Baby's Baby" Oct. 15 at the corner of Avenue A and Eagle Drive. Previously, he resided at his birthplace in the courtyard of Maple Street Hall, one of UNT's residence halls.
Shiue was surprised to discover not one, but two albino squirrels in the trees. The two are the third and fourth squirrels found living at UNT since 2000.
"Just who is this new Vision in White? Is it a Senior Blanco or Senorita Blanca? Only time will tell as K.T. continues to stalk the illusive UNT albino squirrels," said Melody Kelly, associate dean of the UNT Libraries, which sells albino squirrel merchandise to support the libraries' Staff Scholarship Fund.
Kelly said staff members in the UNT Libraries are eager to include the latest member of UNT's family of albino squirrels in future editions of the Albino Squirrel Calendar.
The calendars cover an academic year. The first calendar was created in time for the 2007-08 academic year and featured Shiue's photos of three albino squirrels: "Thelonius," first spotted around 2000; "Baby," first spotted in 2004 and killed by a red-tailed hawk the week before the start of the fall 2006 semester; and "Baby's Baby," first spotted in May 2007.
The current Albino Squirrel Calendar for 2008-09 includes Shiue's photos, cartoons of the squirrels created by former UNT student Natalia Daniels and coupons for the CyberCafé in the Willis Library. The café is also continuing to sell campaign-style buttons featuring drawings of the squirrel. One is a classic cameo design that is also available as an enameled lapel pin, while the other button features the squirrel dressed in an Uncle Sam top hat and carrying a "vote" sign -- a limited edition for this year's presidential election.
Starr Hoffman, a librarian in the UNT Libraries' Government Documents Department, said two more buttons will be designed this year, and four buttons with different designs will be sold in future years.
"One of this year's buttons will feature the squirrel wearing a graduation cap with the date ‘2009' on it," she said. "Three of the button designs will change each year, but we will offer a graduation button each spring with the current year on it."
The calendars are available for $16.24, while the campaign-style buttons cost $1 each and the lapel pins cost $3 each. All items can be ordered by mail at:
Albino Squirrel Calendar
UNT Libraries' Administrative Offices
1155 Union Circle #305190
Denton, TX 76203-5017
Kelly said more than $700 was raised for the scholarship fund through sale of the merchandise.
"Last year, we received orders for the calendar from alumni in Ireland, the UK and Canada as well as the 50 states," she said.
Some UNT students consider the albino squirrel an unofficial mascot and good luck charm for those who spot it. In 2002, after "Thelonius" was discovered, a group of students founded the UNT chapter of the Albino Squirrel Preservation Society, a collegiate group with chapters in Canada and England as well as the United States. The UNT chapter's Web site lists more than 400 members.
In April 2007, UNT's Willis Library dedicated a memorial in the CyberCafé to "Baby," who also received a memorial service on campus after he was killed.