He was one of the earliest Penguins, an authentic Penguin.He did not last long. But he did not last long. But he remains fondly recalled decades later.
He is Pete the Penguin, the first mascot of the Pittsburgh Penguins and one of sports’ earliest mascots.
Pete was an Ecuadorian-born penguin on loan from the Pittsburgh Zoo. Penguins officials even had special ice skates made for Pete by CCM. A skater from the University of Pittsburgh taught Pete at the arena how to ice skate.
Pete made his first appearance during the second intermission of a game against Boston on February 21, 1968. Pete made six more appearances. His last appearance was on November 16 of the same year during a game against New York. He died of pneumonia on November 23, 1968. It is believed that his death was due to the ice crew at the Civic Arena keeping his nesting area too warm.
After his death, Pete was sent to an area taxidermist. He was later displayed in the lobby of the Penguins team offices at the arena. However, the stuffed Pete was later removed from the lobby after a few concerned callers objected to its presence there, according to then-Penguins owner Jack McGregor.
The team later adopted Iceburgh, a more traditional mascot, for the 1993-1994 season. While Iceburgh’s name is a play on both iceburg and Pittsburgh, it is though that not reviving the Penguin Pete name was likely done to avoid confusion with a mascot with the same name at Youngstown State University nearby.