Illini may finally have a mascot to replace Chief Illiniwek: It's 'Alma Otter'

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Photo credit (Photo by PA Images-Sipa USA)(Photo by Erin Hooley-Chicago Tribune-TNS)

The next Mizzou vs Illinois rivalry game could include a new matchup of two fierce furry mascots – a tiger against an otter. 

What began as a joke and a viral meme among Illini students has turned into an official petition to make "Alma Otter" the new mascot of the University of Illinois.

The university has been without a mascot for more than 10 years since they stopped using Chief Illiniwek. A meme, followed by a Facebook page and now a peition from the student body has sparked steps to be taken toward the school adopting a new mascot. 

Introducing Alma Otter: The Mascot Illini Nation Deserves.#Illini | #ComingSoon

— Illini Creative (@IlliniCreative) March 2, 2019

The results of a vote by students will be shared with the schools' administration and the board of trustees next week, but there's no word if the school has real plans to move it forward from there.

There is some sense behind the otter, as some state residents say it "mirrors the resilience and common appeal of the university," since the animals were once an endangered species. It also fits in well with animal mascots in the Big Ten like Wisconsin's Bucky Badger and Minnesota's Goldy the Gopher.

The Alma Otter has even been debated on by some major sports talk shows: 

Before the Horn, the panelists debate about the best animal mascots with some fun (incorrect) facts

— Around The Horn (@AroundtheHorn) March 4, 2019

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