Thick-skinned U-M ‘fan’: Rhino predicts a Wolverines win

Published: Dec. 30, 2022 at 5:54 PM EST
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PHOENIX, Ariz. (WNEM) – A rhino at an Arizona zoo predicted victory for the Michigan Wolverines when they face the TCU Horned Frogs for a big game on Saturday.

Saturday, Dec. 31 is the Fiesta Bowl, and the end of the season for both the U of M and TCU teams is on the line. If the Wolverines win this game, they have a shot of becoming national champions for the first time since 1997.

Many Michigan fans are making the trip to Arizona to support their team, and the fanbase may have gained a member that isn’t human or a wolverine.

“An excellent choice obviously, I’ve always rooted for them,” said Madison Temple, caretaker at the Phoenix Zoo, regarding the pick.

On Friday, the rhino named Chutti made his annual pick for the game. Two boxes, one for Michigan and one for TCU, were placed in front of him. The winner is determined by whichever one Chutti interacts with the most first. To a Michigan fan’s delight, Chutti tore the Michigan box apart first, predicting a Wolverine victory over TCU.

“Our animals are extremely intelligent. So obviously they have a real goal of who they’re trying to pick,” Temple said. “Chutti obviously had an exciting morning trying to decide which one to go for, but I think he made the right choice. It’s really great for us to see the animals interact with the enrichment that we give them. And it’s a really exciting day for him as well as us.”

Fans at the zoo stopped by to see the yearly tradition. As you can imagine, Matthew Leightman and Mason Hart, who back the maize and blue, were pleased with the result.

“Even before this game, I thought they were going to win, but that definitely emphasizes it. Yeah, I definitely think they are going to win this game,” Leightman said.

“Because I’ve been a Michigan fan my whole life as well, and I’ve just been watching them my whole life, and I want to see them win a national championship,” Hart said.

Today, the clear winner is Chutti. He put on a show and enjoyed every minute of it.

“Usually people cheer, people clap, sometimes they chant his name. And he knows, and he soaks it up. Sometimes he’ll do laps around the pool watching them with his head up proud, so he eats it up and so do the patrons of the zoo,” Temple said.

The Wolverines take the field against the Horned Frogs Saturday, Dec. 31 at 4 p.m.

TV5 will be there all weekend long bringing sights and sounds from the game in Glendale.