CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — A University of Illinois celebrity is back on campus nearly six months after its untimely death.
Pinto Bean, an Eastern gray squirrel, returned to Champaign on Monday as a taxidermy mount and is now on display. This fulfills one student’s promise to preserve the beloved squirrel’s remains.
While there are hundreds of squirrels living in the trees on the U of I campus, Pinto Bean was famous for its unique fur, which distinguished it from all the other squirrels. Due to a rare genetic mutation, Pinto Bean was a piebald, which means it had white patches of fur amongst the usual, gray-colored fur. It was this unique pattern, similar to a pinto bean, that inspired the squirrel’s name.
However, just a few months after Pinto Bean became a social media sensation among students, it was discovered dead on Oct. 8, 2022. It was presumed that Pinto Bean had been run over by a car.
The sudden death prompted an outpouring of grief, with students eulogizing Pinto Bean on Reddit and buying a scoreboard message during the Fighting Illini Homecoming game against Minnesota. The squirrel even has its own Wikipedia page.
Pinto Bean’s remains were subsequently retrieved and taken to a taxidermist for stuffing and mounting. The squirrel is now on display at the Forbes Natural History Building, located on the south side of campus.