Bill XXXIII (33), the Naval Academy goat mascot affectionately known as “Blue Eyes” and who played a central role in an Army-Navy prank gone too far nine years ago, has died, the Naval Academy announced Thursday. He would have been 14 years old next week.
The fuzzy Angora goat was the team mascot from 2008 to 2015 and stood out among his brethren for not only his startling, unusual eyes, but his horns, which stretched longer than any goat in his herd.AdvertisementSkip Adhttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.433.1_en.html#goog_719501380
In 2012, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington rescued Bill 33 from a median on Army Navy Drive, just outside the Pentagon, after he was abducted from his home at Maryland Sunrise Farm in Gambrills.
He was the latest victim in a long-running history of mascot heists. Though the Naval Academy, Air Force Academy and United States Military Academy signed a formal agreement in 1992 banning stealing the schools’ animal mascots as a prank, Navy’s goats were also stolen in 1995, 2002 and 2007.
The goatnapping of Bill 33 prompted the Naval Academy to move their mascots’ homes and keep their location, as well as the identities of their caretakers, secret to the public indefinitely.
In his retirement, he was given the nickname “Old Bill” by the midshipmen who were members of “Team Bill.” He had a regal appearance with a little more visual distinguish than his herd members, Naval Academy spokesperson Jenny Erickson noted, and became quite long in the tooth — literally — as his teeth lengthened with age in concert with the span of his impressive horns.
While Bill XXXIV (34) interacted more with the younger members of their herd, Bill 33 embraced his more solitary, old man identity and spent the last of his days happily munching on hay and treats.
“As you get to know the goats, even though they’re not domesticated animals, they do have their individual personalities and they do have attributes that are specific to them, and they do seem to favor certain people like a dog might do,” Erickson said.
Former midshipman David Bishop served on Team Bill from 2013 to 2017 and remembers Bill 33 as more stubborn and feisty than Bill 34 and definitely the pair’s leader. Bishop visited Bill 33 on a trip to Annapolis last year.
“He definitely got sweeter in his old age. I felt like he remembered me. It was sad to hear he passed. Grumpy old guy,” Bishop said affectionately.
Born Jan. 16, 2007, Bill 33 suffered from health issues caused by old age and was humanely euthanized when it became clear that his condition would not improve. He died “in the comfort of his Navy home, with his loving caretaker by his side,” according to the academy news release of his death.
“The academy would like to publicly confirm that he was quite ‘old and gnarly’ and had ‘never been to school,’” the release said.
Bill 33 and 34 were donated to the Naval Academy in 2007. In photos of the pair during their time, Bill 33 liked to rest his head on his partner, something that the younger goats just don’t do as much anymore, Erickson said.
Throughout his career, Bill 33, who proudly earned nine “N stars” on his blanket and whose first game was a victory, witnessed the longest winning streak in Army-Navy history as Navy beat Army 14 straight times from 2005 to 2015. He retired in 2015, and Army defeated Navy the following year.
Bill 33 is survived by successors and current mascots Bills 36 and 37, also Angora goats.
Many among the Navy community were saddened to learn of his death and bid him farewell in Twitter responses to the academy’s post.
“The goats are a fun representation of the Naval Academy because it’s such a long-standing tradition to have these live mascots at our school,” Erickson said. “ … They’re fun to be around. It’s something different. Not every school has a live mascot. We are one of the few institutions still carrying on the tradition, and I think everyone’s just very proud [of them].”Katherine FominykhCONTACT
Katherine Fominykh covers high school and college sports. She also has worked as a sports reporting intern for The Baltimore Sun and The Boston Globe.. She graduated from Emerson College in the most intense sports city in America, Boston, with a Bachelor’s in journalism in 2018.