Rameses, North Carolina's 18th ram mascot, died Thursday night of natural causes. He was 8 years old.
Pablo, as he was named until he was 3 1/2, was a triplet. He was chosen as the heir to UNC's mascot throne because, "he had the potential for the best horns," said Ann Leonard, one of the ram's caretakers. As part of the school tradition, the rams' twisted horns are painted Carolina blue for special events.
Built with big horns and thick skulls, rams naturally are aggressive animals. But Leonard's late husband Rob Hogan raised Pablo as a pet.
"From a young age (Rob) would rub behind his ears, and make him accustomed to being in crowds of large people," said Leonard. The Hogan family has cared for the Tar Heels mascot since 1924. The ram was raised on Magnolia View Farm in Chapel Hill.
"At UNC football games, he was always very patient when fans would come up to him and kiss him," said Leonard. Another of the ram's caretakers, Chris Hogan, said this ram was so good around people, he did not have to put him on a leash in crowds.
The eight-year life span is typical of the Dorset Horned breed, said Leonard.
Another ram, currently called "Bam Bam," but soon to take on the name "Rameses," was picked two years ago to be mascot No. 19.