The first official Wildcat costume made its debut at a Dartmouth football game in the fall of 1968. The appearance of the mascot was a complete surprise to almost everyone, including the players and cheerleaders.
The idea of a mascot was conjured by the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity during a discussion of service projects for the University. Andy Mooradian, UNH athletic director, responded enthusiastically.
The fraternity guaranteed to fill the costume for all the football, basketball and hockey games. Bob St. Cyr, a senior zoology major from Manchester, wore the costume for all football games. According to St. Cyr, the purpose of the mascot is to "keep up the spirit of the team, cheerleaders, and fans."
There have been a number of Wildcat costumes over the years. The ones shown below are dated with the years they appeared in the Granite.
Pep Cat—as the cheerleaders were then called—Lynda Brearey ’66 created a Wildcat costume during a losing year to boost morale. Perhaps her handy work inspired Alpha Phi Omega just two years later.
In 2000, the athletic department created a more fierce Wildcat logo to represent the varsity teams. They also commissioned a friendlier logo, called Wild E. Cat, for use with the children's programs. A 6-foot Wildcat costume was then designed from the logo.
Appearance requests for Wild E. Cat became so numerous that a second costume was needed. Rather than use the same costume design, a more athletic, muscular looking character was created. The name Gnarlz—pronounced "narlz"—was selected from the more than 50 suggestions received by the athletic department in an online poll. The new cat made its first appearance during the September 20, 2008 football game.