Walt Disney’s contribution to UMKC’s kangaroo mascot

Did you know that UMKC’s kangaroo has roo-ts back to the 1930s? Here’s how the zoo, Walt Disney, and university students came up with the mascot.

Three illustrations of KC Roo over the years

Disney’s 1938 roo (left), the first official Kasey (1963), and 2019’s Fighting Roo (right). Did you realize it’s a girl?

Illustrations via UMKC

How did the University of Missouri-Kansas City land on a kangaroo for its mascot? Let’s hop back in time to find out.

The University of Kansas City (UKC) was founded in 1933. Three years later, the debate team was getting ready to compete, and they wanted a mascot — and we know how persuasive they can be.

The students picked a kangaroo after Jigger the kangaroo, who had just arrived at the Kansas City Zoo. The mascot rhymed with KCU and even made the cover of the year book.

In 1937, students formed the Kangaroo Party to push for official mascot adoption. That fall, Kasey Kangaroo (later renamed KC Roo) was born.

Then in 1938, Walt Disney responded to a student request to illustrate the mascot for a magazine. Students began replicating it, and university historians ultimately credit this drawing with the mascot’s lasting effect.

Since then, the symbol has changed a lot. Today, you can see the 2019 Fighting Roo version used for athletic branding.

Photo of Disney's kangaroo at the KC Zoo

Oh, look roo’s at the KC Zoo.

Photo via UMKC