The History And Significance Of The Ucla Bruins Mascot

With its iconic blue and gold colors, the UCLA Bruins mascot holds a special place in the traditions and spirit of this leading university. But how did the Bruins become the mascot of UCLA?

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: The Grizzly Bear was chosen as UCLA’s original mascot in 1926. It was later changed to the Bruins in 1927 to better reflect the school’s teams and values.

Origin of the Bruins Nickname

The UCLA Bruins, one of the most iconic mascots in college sports, have a rich history that dates back to the early 1920s. The nickname “Bruins” was chosen to represent the university’s athletic teams, but how did it come about? Let’s delve into the origins of this unique and beloved mascot.

Selection of the Grizzly Bear in 1926

In 1926, a committee was formed at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to select a new mascot for the school’s athletic program. After careful consideration, the committee settled on the grizzly bear as the symbol for their teams.

This decision was inspired by the presence of grizzly bears in the California region and their association with strength, power, and resilience.

The grizzly bear, known for its fierce nature and impressive physicality, perfectly embodied the qualities that the university wanted to portray in their athletes. The selection of the grizzly bear as the mascot was met with enthusiasm and excitement from the student body, who embraced the new identity with pride.

Switch to the Bruins in 1927

While the grizzly bear was an excellent representation of the university’s athletic spirit, the nickname underwent a change in 1927. The decision to switch from the grizzly bear to the Bruins was made to align the mascot more closely with the university’s official colors, which are blue and gold.

The term “Bruin” is derived from the Dutch word “bruin,” meaning brown. It is also a reference to the brown fur of a bear. The switch to the Bruins allowed for a more direct association with the university’s colors, creating a stronger visual identity for the athletic teams.

The transition to the Bruins nickname was embraced by the UCLA community, and it has since become synonymous with the university’s athletic success and tradition. The mascot represents the strength, determination, and unity of the teams, inspiring both athletes and fans alike.

For more information on the history of the UCLA Bruins and their mascot, visit the official UCLA Athletics website at

Joe Bruin: UCLA’s Anthropomorphic Bear Mascot

The UCLA Bruins have had a rich history filled with traditions, and one of the most beloved figures associated with the university is their mascot, Joe Bruin. Since his creation in 1947, Joe Bruin has become an iconic symbol of school spirit and a source of pride for the UCLA community.

Creation of Joe Bruin in 1947

Joe Bruin was brought to life in 1947 by Eddie Beeler, a UCLA student and member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Beeler wanted to create a mascot that would embody the strength and tenacity of the UCLA athletes.

Inspired by the California state flag, which features a grizzly bear, Beeler decided that a bear would be the perfect representation of the university.

With the help of his fraternity brothers and the UCLA Rally Committee, Beeler designed the first Joe Bruin costume. The costume consisted of a plush bear head, a brown furry body, and a pair of oversized paws. This initial design set the stage for Joe Bruin’s enduring presence at UCLA.

Design and Costume Evolution

Over the years, Joe Bruin’s design and costume have undergone several modifications to enhance his appearance and performance. The initial costume, while well-received, was quite heavy and cumbersome for the person inside.

As technology advanced, lighter materials and more comfortable designs were introduced, allowing the mascot performer to move more freely and interact with the crowd.

Today, Joe Bruin sports a sleeker and more athletic look. His costume is made of high-quality materials that provide both durability and flexibility. The bear head has been refined to showcase a friendly and approachable expression, making Joe Bruin a favorite among fans of all ages.

Importance at Sporting Events and Campus Life

Joe Bruin plays a vital role in creating a spirited and energetic atmosphere at UCLA sporting events. From football games to basketball matches, Joe Bruin can be seen leading cheers, dancing on the sidelines, and interacting with fans.

His presence adds an element of fun and excitement, making him a beloved figure among students, alumni, and supporters of the Bruins.

Aside from sporting events, Joe Bruin also plays a significant role in campus life. He attends various university events, such as homecoming celebrations, pep rallies, and parades. Joe Bruin’s presence symbolizes the unity and camaraderie shared by the UCLA community, fostering a sense of pride and belonging.

Influence on UCLA Traditions and Culture

The UCLA Bruins mascot has had a profound influence on the traditions and culture of the university. Here are some key areas where the mascot’s presence can be seen:

Prevalence of Bruins References on Campus

Walking around the UCLA campus, it’s hard not to notice the abundance of Bruins references. From the iconic Bruin Bear statue located in the heart of campus to the numerous flags, banners, and murals featuring the Bruins logo, the mascot is a ubiquitous part of the university’s identity.

Students proudly wear UCLA Bruins apparel, and the mascot’s image can be found on everything from backpacks to coffee mugs. The mascot’s presence on campus serves as a constant reminder of the university’s athletic achievements and its strong sense of pride.

Usage in UCLA Songs and Cheers

The UCLA Bruins mascot is also prominently featured in the university’s songs and cheers. The fight song, “Sons of Westwood,” includes lyrics that pay homage to the Bruins mascot. It is often sung by students and fans alike during sporting events to show their support for the team.

In addition, the mascot’s image is frequently displayed on large screens at games, encouraging the crowd to cheer louder and rally behind the team. The mascot’s presence in these songs and cheers helps to create a sense of unity and camaraderie among UCLA supporters.

Role in Homecoming Events

During homecoming events at UCLA, the Bruins mascot plays a central role in the festivities. The mascot often leads the homecoming parade, captivating the crowd with its energetic and entertaining performance.

It is also a common sight to see the mascot interacting with students and alumni, posing for photos and creating memorable experiences. The presence of the Bruins mascot during homecoming events helps to foster a sense of community and pride among current students and alumni, creating lasting memories and traditions.

Comparison to Other Pac-12 Mascots

UC Berkeley’s Oski the Bear

When it comes to Pac-12 mascots, one cannot overlook UC Berkeley’s beloved Oski the Bear. Oski has been the official mascot of the UC Berkeley Golden Bears since 1941. This lovable and energetic bear is known for his playful antics and spirited personality.

With his signature blue and gold outfit, Oski brings a sense of excitement and pride to every game. The rivalry between Oski and the UCLA Bruins mascot is legendary, with both mascots engaging in friendly banter and pranks during games and events.

USC’s Traveler Horse

Another iconic Pac-12 mascot is USC’s Traveler Horse. Since 1961, Traveler has been the symbol of spirit and tradition for the USC Trojans. This majestic white horse, ridden by a Trojan warrior, gallops around the field before every home game, stirring up excitement among fans.

The presence of Traveler adds an air of grandeur and elegance to USC’s athletic events. While Traveler may be a unique and impressive mascot, it is quite different from the energetic and playful nature of the UCLA Bruins mascot.

Stanford’s Tree

Stanford University takes a rather unconventional approach to its mascot with the Stanford Tree. This anthropomorphic tree, with its colorful and vibrant attire, represents the Cardinal spirit of the school.

The Stanford Tree is known for its lively dance moves and quirky personality, bringing a sense of fun and excitement to Stanford’s sporting events. However, the UCLA Bruins mascot, with its fierce and determined demeanor, offers a different kind of energy that resonates with fans and players alike.

While each Pac-12 mascot brings its own unique charm and character to their respective schools, the UCLA Bruins mascot holds a special place in the hearts of Bruins fans. With its history dating back to 1924, the UCLA Bruins mascot represents the strength, determination, and fighting spirit of the university.

Whether it’s the playful rivalry with Oski the Bear, the grandeur of Traveler Horse, or the quirky charm of the Stanford Tree, the UCLA Bruins mascot stands tall among its Pac-12 counterparts.


The Bruins mascot has become an iconic symbol of spirit and unity at UCLA. With deep roots dating back to the 1920s, the Bruins reflect the strength, pride and competitive drive of the university’s athletic programs.

From cheering on Joe Bruin at football games to seeing Bruins references across campus, the mascot has become ingrained into UCLA culture and tradition over the decades.

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