A group of Army cadets at West Point fell short in their mission to grab the Naval Academy’s mascot, in a long-running but officially shunned tradition between the schools, The New York Times reported.
Over the weekend, the Army cadets sneaked into a private farm in Annapolis, Md., where the mascot, the 37th Bill the Goat, was pastured with other goats, including at least one prior Bill, the Times reported.
Various breeds of goat have served as the Naval Academy’s mascot for the past 70 years, according to the newspaper, all of which have been named Bill.
The cadets were so loud that they caused the goats to run, and the cadets grabbed the wrong goat. When they returned to West Point, the cadets unveiled the 34th Bill the Goat, an arthritic retired mascot with one horn, The Army and Navy told the Times in a joint statement.
The Army told the Times that the 34th Bill was returned on Monday, and a veterinarian who checked the goat said he was in good health.
"The U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy are disappointed by the trust that was broken recently between our brothers and sisters in arms," West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams and Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck said in a joint statement to The Hill.
"These actions do not reflect either academy’s core values of dignity and respect," the superintendents said. "West Point has ensured the mascot was returned safely and is investigating those responsible.”
This isn’t the first time Bill the Goat has been grabbed throughout history in pranks — called “spirit missions” — which normally precede the Army-Navy football game. Army Cadets have stolen Bill at least 10 times since 1953, and Air Force cadets have also pulled off some pranks on Bill, the Times noted.
— Updated at 1:26 p.m.