birthday cake

Peter celebrates his 50th Birthday this year!

Meet Peter the Anteater: UCI’s official campus mascot

Fifty years ago, UCI’s pioneering students were propositioned with a noble task: select the most beloved, feared and revered mascot of all time. Together, they sought out to challenge the status quo and gift UCI the Anteater – a quirky, loveable mascot that embraces the power of being different and captures the heart of each member of the ’Eater Nation.

In need of a mascot

It was 1965 and freshman ruled the newly established UC Irvine campus. Just 12 days after the first day of classes, UCI’s men’s water polo team beat Cal Poly in front of a crowd of 900 students. The triumph made it abundantly clear: UCI needed a mascot.

anteater a natural choice

Water polo players Pat Glasgow and Bob Ernst, unimpressed by mascot suggestions from university administration, proposed the anteater idea to some friends. As fans of Johnny Hart’s comic strip “B.C.,” which featured an anteater who cried “ZOT!” the long-nosed, bushy-tailed mammal seemed to be a natural choice.

Anteater emerged with 56 percent of votes

With the help of their peers, the water polo players successfully lobbied for the Anteater mascot. And on Nov. 30, 1965 – the Anteater emerged victorious with some 56 percent of the vote, beating out alternatives such as the unicorns, sea hawks, toros, bison, centaurs, roadrunners and “none of these.”

campus embraced the mascot with Zot codes

Today, the Anteater and his vicious battle cry “ZOT!” is synonymous with UCI. The campus has embraced the mascot with Zot codes, Zotmail, anteater statues, a campus store called the Zot-N-Go, and a student spirit group known as the Antourage, the most enthusiastic members of the ’Eater Nation.

Walk down memory lane

Peter the Anteater has had a lot of memorable moments in 50 years, from breaking world records to rubbing elbows with politicians and even taking a ride on the Space Shuttle Endeavor. Through all the excitement, his favorite memories are when he’s cheering on the crowd at a big game and hobnobbing with students on the UCI campus.

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Anteater accolades

The ’Eater Nation is partial to Peter the Anteater, but we’re not alone in our sentiments. UCI’s mascot has a pristine reputation for pumping-up the crowd and securing the adoration of people across the nation.

mashable mascot winner mashable

Voted Mascot Champion
Who’s the nation’s best college mascot? None other than Peter the Anteater. The buff, slow-moving mammal with the long nose was crowned the best of the best in Mashable’s Mascot Madness. Peter the Anteater received the illustrious title during the 2015 NCAA March Madness, beating out opponents such as University of Maryland’s Testudo the Turtle and University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Blaze the dragon.

Reader's Digest lovable mascots winner Reader's Digest

Peter among nation’s most lovable mascots
America has spoken: Peter the Anteater also is one of the nation’s most lovable mascots. Peter was ranked 4th among mascots the 2011 “Best of America” issue of Reader’s Digest for his charming personality and rugged good looks. Perhaps it’s the snuggly gray fur, the two-foot-long tongue or the big soulful eyes. Just take one look past those bulging muscles and you’ll find a cuddly mascot ready to hug it out and lead ‘Eaters in a rousing ZOT! ZOT! ZOT!

Peter’s profile

Ever wonder what an Anteater does in their free time? Get the low-down on Peter the Anteater’s passions.

Peter at basketball game
  • Sex: Male
  • Age: 50
  • Hometown: Irvine
  • Stature: A buff 6'9"
  • Sign: Sagittarius
  • Education: In college
  • Major: Spirit, Loyalty, Entertainment, TraditionMinor Myrmecology, or the scientific study of ants
  • Clubs: UC Irvine Athletics, Completely Insane Anteaters (more commonly known as CIA), CIA Band, UCI Cheer and Dance Team, Modern CIA dance team, Greeks, Cross-Cultural Center, ASUCI, Residence Housing and all of the other great student clubs at UC Irvine
  • Movies: Empire of the Ants and Antz
  • TV: UC Irvine sporting events on ESPN, Fox Sports West, CBS College Sports Network, KVMD and Cox3. Also, loves to watch anything on and Animal Planet.

Mascot makeovers

No doubt about it: Peter the Anteater is the face of UCI. And what a face it is! Over the years, the mascot's had multiple makeovers, moving from cuddly oversize fur ball to the tough, buff anteater with biceps he is today.

Read more: "The Anteater Mascot" on Anteater Chronicles (maintained by UC Irvine Libraries).

Peter in 1980
Peter in 1985
Peter in 1988
Peter in 1994
Peter in 1995
Peter in 1999
Peter in 2004
Peter in 2005
Peter in 2011
Current Peter

Conan vs. Peter

Peter the Anteater and Conan O’Brien go nose-to-nose in the battle of the mascots. Watch the late night talk show host take on Peter in a push-up contest and offer his practical (and comedic) advice on improving UCI’s beloved mascot.

Connect with Peter

Stay up-to-date on all of Peter's antics, UCI Athletics news and a smattering of anteater facts by following the UCI mascot's social media accounts.

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Bookings, appearances and merchandise

Everyone could use more Peter the Anteater in their lives! Get the details on booking Peter the Anteater and how to purchase official mascot merchandise.

Peter with Fans

Want to liven up your event or add some school spirit to your soiree? Book Peter the Anteater for an appearance at your party, charity outreach, special ceremony or community event.

The Hill

Share the joy only an Anteater can bring by giving the gift of Peter to your family, friends, coworkers, business partners and neighbors. Shop all things Peter the Anteater at The Hill, UCI’s official campus store.