Curio Queri: Hello, and welcome to our first annual campus critter showdown! Throughout the month of February, we’ll be conducting a battle of the beasts to determine who will be crowned UTD’s ultimate little guy. I’m your correspondent on the scene, Curio Queri, and I’m here to ask all of YOU who’s favored to come out on top this year.

Curio Queri: Although this is a cuteness competition, we take many factors into consideration when selecting our contenders. Intelligence, guts, talent; sources say that all these features add to a critter’s cuteness factor. Now, before we begin, we’d like to give a shout-out to the teams who sadly weren’t able to make the bracket this year. Teams Duck, Possum, and Toad failed to meet the popularity threshold and will be dearly missed. Without further ado, let’s begin! Looks like someone’s approaching now.

Curio Queri: Excuse me — in the green hoodie! Could I ask what your name and major are?

Jesse: Oh, I’m Jesse, I’m majoring in Psychology. What’s this about?

Curio Queri: Would you mind sharing which critter you’re supporting this month and why?

Jesse: Team Bunny, duh! Tell me those adorably vacant eyes don’t immediately win you over. I’ve always wondered why they only come out at night, though. Hey — have you ever noticed them hanging around in the Plinth some evenings? I swear they’ll sit in a circle and just stare at the pool, like they’re waiting for something. I’m sure they have their reasons though. I dunno, I’m not a rabbit.

Curio Queri: Well, that’s… uhm. Intriguing, if not slightly unnerving. How about your friend? Would you mind sharing which team has your support?

Seth: Me? My name’s Seth, I’m an econ major. If you want my honest opinion, Team Crow is guaranteed to win; they’ve practically got it in the bag already. Think about it: crows are some of the smartest birds on the planet — even smarter than owls! Way smarter than a bunch of rodents with big ears.

Curio Queri: Actually rabbits are leporids, not rodents.

Seth: Rabbits aren’t leopards dude; I have no clue where you got that from.

Curio Queri: I… okay. He’s leaving. I didn’t have a response for that, so maybe it’s for the best. Excuse me, on the skateboard! Would you mind sharing your name, major, and which critter has your support?

Jay: I’m Jay and I’m a Geoscience major! Listen, if Team Blue Jay doesn’t win, I’m gonna be out of a lot of money. I need this. These are my people. Er, well, birds I guess.

Curio Queri: So your name is Jay and you’re supporting Team Jay?

Jay: It’s not just because of the namesake, y’know. Blue jays have a bad reputation! They’re misunderstood creatures. I mean yeah, they bully other birds on a regular basis, but we don’t know what their reasons are. Maybe those birds have bad vibes. Maybe they owe them money. We don’t know.

Curio Queri: Alright, fair enough. Pardon me miss, would you mind introducing yourself and sharing which critter you’re supporting this month?

Lily: My Name’s Lily and I’m in ATEC; Team Squirrel has my vote! I wish I could ask them for tips on how to be more productive, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those little guys sitting still. Ugh… sorry I can’t stay and chat, I got into an argument with a barista and I’m late for class again. Can you believe that Starbucks cuts you off at 10 shots of espresso? I mean come on, if I’m paying for it then what’s the harm, right?

Curio Queri: Um… a heart murmur, maybe?

Lily: Heart murmur, pfft, I don’t even know her! Anyway, these lab assignments aren’t gonna finish themselves. See ya!

Curio Queri: I’m praying for whoever her cardiologist is. Either way, we’re short on time so this next interview might be our last. I think I see someone now — hello there! Would you mind doing an introduction and telling us which critter has your vote this month?

Harley: Hm? Oh, I’m Harley, I’m a bio major. Let’s see… I guess I haven’t really thought about it. Is there a team for toads?

Curio Queri: I’m afraid not, sadly. We’re a bit lacking in amphibian representation. There’s a team for turtles, though.

Harley: Oh perfect! Yeah, I think I’m Team Turtle. Somebody’s gotta rep the reptiles. They may not be the brightest, but they’ll outlast birds or mammals when the going gets tough.

Curio Queri: Those sound like fighting words to me. We’ll just have to see! Thanks so much for your time. And that concludes —

???: WAIT! Aren’t you forgetting someone?

Curio Queri: Pardon?

???: Seriously, what happened to journalistic integrity? If you’d done your homework, you’d know that there’s an underdog in our midst. A small, six-wheeled, food-toting underdog. The utter lack of respect is embarrassing.

Curio Queri: I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying — you mean Tobor? I was told that only critters qualified for the bracket.

???: Well, you were LIED TO. Besides, Tobor is as critter as you and I are human! Artificial or not, it doesn’t make them any less endearing. In fact, quite the opposite is true. We’re in for a real #TOBORSWEEP — it’s been trending on Reddit for the past week!

Curio Queri: I don’t use Reddit; I have a job.

???: SILENCE, NAYSAYER. Just you wait, these weakling competitors have nothing against cutting edge technology and engineering. Can squirrels deliver Panda Express? No. I rest my case.

Curio Queri: I suppose I can’t argue with that. This is an unexpected turn of events; it seems like the competition is even stiffer than we thought! Looks like we have a new contender on the block whose name starts with ‘T’ and ends with ‘obor.’ I’m your host, Curio Queri, making my exit before any more strangers can yell trending hashtags at me. Here’s to survival of the cutest and may the best little guy win!