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Albino squirrels are a hit at UNT

DENTON -- The spotting of another albino squirrel at the University of North Texas has people going, well, nuts.

Seems fans cannot get enough of such critters. They've inspired clubs, campaign buttons and even calendars.

The snow white Baby's Baby resurfaced this month at a grove of trees at Avenue A and Eagle Drive after calling the courtyard of a residence hall home. And he brought an albino friend whom some call Senor Blanco or Senorita Blanca -- it's not easy determining a squirrel's gender.

"I'm really excited," said fan K.T. Shiue, a UNT Web master and computer support specialist. "I try to be there every day to watch them before and after work."

The dashing duo are the third and fourth albino squirrels found living on campus in recent years, UNT spokeswoman Nancy Kolsti said. Thelonius made his first appearance in 2000 but disappeared in 2004 under mysterious circumstances. Baby followed in 2004 but, alas, became dinner for a red-tailed hawk just before the fall 2006 semester. A memorial service was held on campus. In May 2007 came Baby's Baby -- though proving the actual lineage is impractical, Kolsti said.

Albino squirrels are pretty rare because they usually don't live long enough to reproduce, said Brett Johnson, a state urban wildlife biologist. To predators, "they stick out like a sore thumb."

But Baby's Baby is a survivor. Students swear the white wonders bring good luck. The campus is full of stories of students who aced their tests after spotting a pink-eyed beauty.

So naturally an Albino Squirrel Preservation Society chapter was formed in 2002. UNT's libraries also started selling the Albino Squirrel Calendar in 2007-08 to raise money for scholarships. The calendar includes illustrations and the not-to-miss photos by Shiue of Thelonius, Baby and the sexy Baby's Baby. And the main library's CyberCafe sells lapel pins and campaign-style buttons with an illustrated squirrel. More than $700 has been raised.

You can imagine the excitement when Baby's Baby introduced a new star.

As for the squirrels, they seem to be above it all, playing in the trees that blanket the campus. Just try to get their autograph, and they'll run away.

Can't resist?

Squirrel calendars cost $16.24. For those who just can't contain their affection to an office wall, lapel pins cost $3 and campaign-style buttons cost $1. They are all available at:

UNT Libraries Administrative Offices

1155 Union Circle No. 305190

Denton, TX 76203-5017

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