Breaking news: The UC Berkeley campus community is in uproar over the discovery of a tailless squirrel in the wooded area of campus between LeConte Hall and the Faculty Club. Unlike most squirrels, this animal — affectionately nicknamed “Stumpy” by the campus community — bears not a tail, but a furred stump that wiggles in a manner scientifically described as “the most adorable thing since the tiniest puppy in the entire world.” The discovery was made Wednesday evening; in the short span of time since then, Stumpy has been the center of intense debate in multiple fields across campus.
A leading team of UC Berkeley biologists plans to conduct a scientific study to determine the cause of the eponymous stump. While the investigation primarily aims to uncover the genetic cause behind such a strange physiological phenomenon, researchers also hope the data will shed some light on the evolution of the mammalian spinal column and explain the emergence of what could potentially be a new species of tailless squirrel. According to head researcher Will Occam, it was originally hypothesized that Stumpy was missing part of his tail as a result of some trauma, such as a skirmish with another squirrel or a larger predator. But after preliminary investigations, the team of researchers dismissed this hypothesis as being too simple.
“Sure, the most likely explanation is that this is a result of a simple physical trauma,” Occam told The Daily Californian. “But it’s much more fun to assume something ridiculously complicated instead.”
Much of the student community has embraced Stumpy’s appearance, hailing the squirrel as a local celebrity and, in some cases, even a religious deity. The squirrel has garnered a cult-like following numbering in the tens of thousands; hundreds of social media accounts have been made in his honor, he is a trending topic on Facebook and Twitter and The Daily Clog’s sole data analyst, Chad, estimates that 66 percent of the Yik Yak news feed consists of posts about Stumpy in one form or another. It is projected that by the end of the week, the vast majority of the Internet’s most popular memes will be centered around Stumpy, an estimate that will only get larger once Buzzfeed inevitably publishes the listicle “20 Times Stumpy Was The World’s Most Awesome Squirrel.”
In the past few hours, hundreds have come forward with their own personal anecdotes about how Stumpy’s perseverance in life, despite being tailless, has motivated them to become better students, people and tailless mammals themselves. The furor has become so widespread that a film crew is slated to appear on campus within the next few weeks to begin filming for a Lifetime original movie based on Stumpy and his deeply inspirational story. The role of Stumpy will most likely be filled by UC Berkeley’s very own Chancellor Dirks; but UC President Janet Napolitano is also being considered for the part.
On the political side, a coalition has been formed to put Stumpy on the ASUC ballot, despite the fact that voting ended yesterday. Multiple student action groups have threatened to stage protests on Sproul Plaza if the election is not revised to include the “Stumpy 4 President” platform, and street vendors all across Telegraph Avenue have begun to offer T-shirts with the phrase “Stumpy 2016” emblazoned on the front.
“Stumpy is going to save UC Berkeley,” said a representative for a group in favor of the recasting of votes. “I don’t know how he’ll do it, but I know in my heart that if he can make it all this way without the help of a tail, then he can make it to the ASUC Senate.”
It is also rumored that the UC regents are in talks to replace Oski with Stumpy as the university mascot. When asked for comment, Oski said nothing, but wrung his hands angrily and shot a murderous glare toward the region of campus in which Stumpy normally resides.
Below are some exclusive shots of Stumpy in his natural habitat for those who have not been fortunate enough to have glimpsed the furry campus celebrity. May the Stump be with you.