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USNA Mascot, Bill XXXV, has Died

One of the U.S. Naval Academy's mascots and good luck charms has died, the academy announced Wednesday.

The white purebred Angora goat, Bill XXXV, was taken Tuesday to the New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania because of an illness. Given the dire situation, doctors chose to euthanize the 2-year-old goat.

He had health issues since he came to the academy in 2015. He had suffered from an idiopathic edema, which was caused by chronic kidney weakness, the caretaker said in the release.

Bill XXXV leaves behind a twin brother, Bill XXXVI, as well as retired mascots Bill XXXIII and Bill XXXIV (the goats traditionally are distinguished by Roman numerals). All of the goats live in the Annapolis-Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area. The location and the names of the caretakers were not released due to security and safety concerns.

He and his brother were donated by Navy fans James and Tracy Ross, of Harper, Texas. The caretakers were not available to comment "during this time of mourning and sadness," according to the release.

Before becoming the mascot, goats have had a long history with the Navy. Goats were kept on some naval vessels to provide the sailors with food, milk and even as a pet, according to the academy. The animals even know how to swim.

Some believe the first association with Navy football stems from a pet goat that died while a Navy ship was at sea. The officers loved the goat so much that they saved its skin to have it mounted when they reached the port in Baltimore.

Two ensigns were sent to the taxidermist with the skin, but they decided to first stop by the Naval Academy football game. At half-time, one of the officers used the skin as a form of entertainment. He "romped up and down the sidelines cloaked with the goat skin barely covering his blue uniform," the academy said.

Navy won and the victory was attributed to the "spirit of the late, lamented goat."

A live goat became the official mascot in 1893 at an Army-Navy game. Navy won.

The tradition of naming the mascot Bill started in 1900. The goat, named Bill I, attended an Army-Navy game, and watched the midshipmen defeat their rivals, according to USNI News. Some mascots have been discharged when Army defeated Navy.

The Navy mascots have been victims of kidnappings over the years. The first reported kidnapping was in 1953, when a group of West Pointers secretly visited the Yard. This would continue throughout the 1990s, and in 1995, West Point took three Bills from a farm and took them to Fort Bragg in North Carolina. They left behind a sheet with "Go Army, Beat Navy" and a drawing of a slashed goat.

The Bills have also been stolen by the Air Force Academy and University of Maryland. The most recent kidnapping was in 2012 when Bill was stolen from a farm in Gambrills and found tied to a post on Army Navy Drive in Arlington, Virginia.

Only a couple lucky midshipmen, who serve as goat handlers, know where the Bills live. There's rumors that they're protected by a guard dog.

The academy has previously honored mascots that have died. In 1912, the goat, who was then named "Jack," was the mascot for seven years but died from colic, the academy said. Although plans were made for a funeral, the goat's skin was mounted.

"The Three-to-Nothing Jack Dalton" is still at Halsey Field House's foyer, where he is mounted in a glass case and on his hind legs.

Funeral arrangements for Bill XXXV have not been announced. ___

(c)2016 The Capital (Annapolis, Md.)

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This article was written by Meredith Newman from The Capital, Annapolis, Md. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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