The Naval Academy’s mascot is a fighting goat. That goat’s name is Bill, after a pet kept by the first president of the Naval Academy Athletic Association. The emblematic mascot is fashioned after the actual animal as embodied over the years by more than 37 goats. The first goat was only a skin, the remainder of a loved ship goat, and worn by naval officers as they danced for the crowd during halftime.
Since 1893, Bill has been a living goat who embodies the fighting spirit and tenacity of the Navy. To find that mascot, the Naval Academy took out a newspaper ad reading “WANTED: The meanest and fiercest goat possible …”
Today Bill is not one goat but three, all white Angoras that weigh about 200 pounds at maturity.
The Bills’ whereabouts are kept secret because of repeated kidnappings, typically by the rivals at West Point.
Even the identity of Bill the Goat’s caretakers — who “are chosen because of their great love for these animals,” says U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Walter E. ‘Ted’ Carter — is kept a secret as part of a great tradition.
Yet I managed to get a glimpse into that mysterious world in an impromptu exclusive interview with a caretaker who’s name we’ve ommitted for the safety of all concerned.
Bay Weekly Which goat is the most trouble?
Bill Caretaker The blue-eyed goat, No. 33, is the naughtiest.
Bay Weekly What is Bill’s typical lifespan?
Bill Caretaker Twelve years.
Bay Weekly How did current goats, Nos. 33, 34, 36 and 37, come to the U.S. Naval Academy?
Bill Caretaker Bills 33 and 34 were donated by a farm in Pennsylvania and are now retired. Bills 36 and 37 are gifts from the Texas family of an army helicopter pilot, who wished he’d gone to Navy. They are now the active Bills.
Bay Weekly Tell us an interesting fact about the goats’ home life.
Bill Caretaker The Bills are kind of like dogs. Because we get them so young, they like to follow you around and love attention. The Bills also enjoy snacking on peanuts and mints.
Learn more about Bill at the new exhibit in the Naval Academy Visitor Center, established in honor of all the past Bills but in particular the late Bill 35 whose blanket is framed and on display.