Baby, a yellow-bellied marmot who lived in Colorado State University’s zoology building, has died at the age of 12, just as he was about to finish his winter hibernation.
Baby’s human parent, Professor of Biology Greg Florant, studies mammalian metabolism during hibernation. Originally intended as an experimental animal, Baby got special dispensation from Colorado Parks and Wildlife to become an educational marmot, after Florant and his students noticed he was unusual.
“You could get right down and pet him, like a cat,” Florant says. “He was just so nice.”
For many years, Florant took Baby to local schools to teach children about hibernation, and used him in CSU mammalogy courses. Baby was popular among CSU students, some of whom remembered when Florant brought Baby to their schools when they were younger.
“He never bit, and he let kids pet him,” Florant said. “The only time he got a little cranky was when he was hibernating.”
For his last few years, Baby spent his winters in a cozy hibernaculum he built himself.
Florant has decided not to get attached to another marmot like he did with Baby.
“Baby was a great ambassador for CSU, and for all marmots,” Florant said.