In loving memory of Pinto Bean

Death of popular campus squirrel saddens fans

By Lillie Salas, Contributing Writer

Beloved University of Illinois squirrel, Pinto Bean, age unknown, was found dead on the side of Springfield Avenue on the morning of Oct. 8. The cause of death is believed to be roadkill from a fatal hit and run.

Pinto Bean was a squirrel with vitiligo, a disorder that causes a lack of pigment in the skin and fur. Pinto spent most of its time on campus. With a uniquely grey and white spotted fur coat, Pinto was easy to spot. Pinto Bean soon became loved by the students who crossed the squirrel’s path. 

Many students reacted strongly to the death of the squirrel, like Wren Dulnev, freshman in ACES. Dulnev often talked about Pinto Bean with their friends and was hoping to see the squirrel in person one day.

“When I saw that Pinto Bean was dead, I got really upset and mad to be honest … I had not seen him when he was alive,” Dulnev said. “I am a very avid squirrel watcher, as is my roommate.”

There is no formal clarification on Pinto Bean’s gender or family life, so there is no real way to tell if it is survived by any family members.

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Pinto Bean had many successes in life, one of them being immense popularity. Pinto was a star, and many students read about Pinto Bean spottings and sightings on the University subreddit, including Annika Govil, freshman in Engineering.

“I heard about Pinto Bean through Reddit, and I fell in love with the adorable creature,” Govil said.

The impact that Pinto Bean had on students was overwhelmingly positive, and many were devastated by the news that Pinto was gone.

Following the squirrel’s death, students collected Pinto Bean from the side of the road and, through a post on Reddit, expressed interest in preserving Pinto Bean’s body with taxidermy. According to several Reddit posts, Pinto Bean’s body was recovered and handed off to a professional taxidermist. In the coming weeks, their body will be ready to be seen again.

“I think it is really important to continue thinking and honoring Pinto Bean,” Govil said. “That little guy made everyone’s days a little brighter.”

Pinto Bean’s ability to brighten onlookers’ days will be missed by the students who were lucky enough to bear witness. Long live the legend that was Pinto Bean.

Pinto Bean’s legacy was recognized during Illini football’s Homecoming Game against Minnesota on Oct. 15. In the third quarter, the stadium jumbotron displayed a photo of Pinto Bean with the caption: “RIP to Pinto Bean the Squirrel, forever in our hearts.”

“I will think everyday about how I didn’t get to see him alive, and I will be envious of all those who did,” Dulnev said. “He will live forever in my mind as the unofficial mascot of my freshman class.”

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