Joe and Josephine Bruin
Originally, UCLA students were Cubs, a nod to the school’s fledgling status that didn’t sit well for long. So in 1924, students adopted the more ferocious Grizzly. In 1926, however, as UCLA looked to enter the Pacific Coast Conference, the University of Montana – already a member – pressed its case for Grizzly ownership. Once again, UCLA was in search of a moniker. After considering everything from Buccaneers to Gorillas, students remained in a quandary. At the time, UC Berkeley was using both Bears and Bruins. Berkeley’s student leaders voted to give the Bruin name up and finally, UCLA had its mascot.
UCLA’s earliest mascots were live bears, which entertained the home crowd at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The bears were given a variety of names, but Joe Bruin stood the test of time. In 1961, alumni presented the campus with the first Josephine Bruin, a little Himalayan bear. Josephine lived in the Rally Committee chair’s backyard, until she grew too big, and was moved to the San Diego Zoo.
Costumed student mascots took over the job in the mid-1960s. Several students were selected to take turns playing Joe, who was joined in 1967 by a costumed Josephine – or Josie, as she is more popularly called today. Joe’s costumes and depiction have evolved over the years, from a Mickey Mouse-looking Bruin in the 1930s to a smiling Joe in the 1970s. The current design was unveiled in 1996.
Like those of the University of California, UCLA’s colors are blue and gold. The university’s colors were chosen to represent the state’s various attributes: Blue to symbolize the ocean, and local wildflowers. Yellow to reflect the Golden State, the California poppy and sunsets. Of course, the shades have changed over the years. The blue, for example, has varied from powder to sky to royal.
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