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Northwestern’s Animal Kingdom

From tweeting foxes to elephant skeletons, the University has a history of life on the wild side.


Summer 2019

Last winter two beavers were spotted on the Evanston campus. University archivist Kevin Leonard ’77, ’82 MA says the Evanston campus has long been home to more than Wildcats, with bats, raccoons, skunks, “semi-domesticated” squirrels, foxes and coyotes living on or near campus. Here are a few Northwestern connections to the animal kingdom. 


One of the University’s early mascots was a caged bear cub from the Lincoln Park Zoo named “Furpaw,” who made an appearance before each football game in 1923.

Albert Wolfson’s Birds

Acclaimed biologist and ornithologist Albert Wolfson, a professor of biological sciences, did much of his research on the migratory and mating habits of birds on the Northwestern campus.

Wildcat on Campus 

Many Northwestern tour guides tell the tale that a wildcat was once spotted dashing across Deering Meadow. “It’s a complete myth, of course,” Leonard scoffs. However, anyone who visits University Archives will find a preserved wildcat, donated by the Gates family in 1966.

Northwestern’s Museum of Natural History

In 1870 Oliver Marcy, professor of natural history and physics, founded a museum of natural history in University Hall that showcased a wide variety of fossils, minerals and shells and even included skeletons of a whale and an elephant.


In May 2012, @NorthwesternFox, a parody Twitter account, documented fox sightings on the Evanston campus.

Legend of the Deer

Deer are a rare sight on the Evanston campus, but legend has it that if you spot one before a midterm or final, you will ace your test!

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