The world's most famous pigeon (its preserved body is on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American history in Washington) has only one leg. The other was shot off in 1918 while Cher Ami was successfully carrying his 12th and final message some 25 miles to American troops in Verdun, France, during World War I. The note, which the carrier pigeon delivered despite also taking a German bullet through the breast, alerted U.S. forces to the location of the 77th Infantry's "Lost Battalion." Soldiers were therefore able to locate more than 200 soldiers and to return them safely behind American lines. Cher Ami, who died the following year of his injuries, received the French Croix de Guerre and in 1931 he was inducted into the Racing Pigeon Hall of Fame for his bravery.
Before Texas' Bevo, before Colorado's Ralphie, before LSU's Mike the Tiger and long before Georgia's UGA, there was Handsome Dan of Yale. The nation's longest-running live-animal mascot line welcomed its 16th member earlier this year. The first Handsome Dan, whose stuffed body is on view in the school's Payne Whitney Gymnasium (left) was purchased by a student for five dollars in 1889. That inaugural Dan helped guide the Elis to 125 victories in 131 games, inspiring Cole Porter (class of 1913) to write the song Bull Dog. The ninth Handsome Dan made SI's cover in '56, two years after nearly drowning in the Housatonic River while attending a crew race; the 12th might have been named Handsome Danielle--she was the line's only female--and the 13th lunched with a certain alumnus: the elder President Bush.
Many dolphins played the role of the 7'8", 300-pound TV and film star. One became an original Miami Dolphin. Patrolling a 16,500-gallon tank behind the east end zone at the Orange Bowl, he would jump into the air and do backflips after each Miami score. "Everyone cheered for Flipper more than for anyone else," recalls former Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian, seen here shaking Flipper's fin in 1972. Adds former Miami quarterback Bob Griese, "When a guy kicked an extra point at that end of the field a lot of times the ball would go in Flipper's tank. The wet football sometimes got back in the game, and if there was a lot of scoring it could get a little waterlogged." Flipper lost his job in '72 (he was removed to make room for more seats), but his spirit was revived in the '94 Jim Carrey vehicle, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, in which Snowflake, a thinly veiled version of Flipper, is stolen from a tank at the football stadium.
CH. MY OWN BRUCIE