Bully rolls with sideline bodyguards at all times. Mike the Tiger boasts the biggest on-campus abode, a 13,000 square-foot enclosure. Reveille is referred to as the First Lady. Smokey, without fail, howls after every touchdown. And Tusk, the 250-pound Russian boar, apparently kisses on command. As for Sir Big Spur, he keeps it simple—food, water, and fresh bedding his only desires. So who are these beloved, esteemed animals getting celebrity treatment? None other than a few of the charming mascots of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), the collegiate athletic conference that sponsors championship competitions—probably most recognized for their football bowls.
New York-based photographer and animal lover Jamie Chung captures his subjects in a light that echoes the pride, glory and glee these mascots undoubtedly provide their fans in a series recently commissioned by ESPN. Chung tells us most of the animals belong to owners who keep them off campus and bring them to the stadiums for games. He also lets us in on his experience shooting Tusk: “The boar was wild and powerful so I was nervous about my lighting equipment. Thankfully Tusk’s owner Keith proved to be quite the ‘boar-whisperer’ and Tusk was kept calm and still with his favorite snack—grapes.”