"Pierre The Pelican" is the New Orleans Pelicans' new mascot. (@PelicansNBA)
The New Orleans Pelicans unveiled their new mascot -- "Pierre the Pelican" -- as their 2013-14 season opened on Tuesday.
The mascot's costume incorporates the Pelicans' new blue, gold and red color scheme. Pierre sports a blue jersey and shorts, matching blue gloves, blue accents on his yellow, furry wings and blue eyebrows. Pierre's face looks a bit like an oversized clown mask, with an attention-grabbing red mouth and beak.
Pierre replaces "Hugo The Hornet" as part of the organization's re-branding effort. The New Orleans Hornets officially changed their moniker to the Pelicans in April after initially unveiling the name change and the new color scheme back in January. Hugo had been with the organization since its inception as an expansion franchise in 1988.
"Hugo the Hornet" served as the mascot for the Hornets in Charlotte and New Orleans. (Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)
The Hornets name came with the franchise when former owner George Shinn relocated the team to New Orleans in 2002 after 14 years in Charlotte. Shinn then sold the Hornets to the NBA in 2010. When Pelicans owner Tom Benson purchased the team from the NBA in April 2012, he expressed a desire to find a name that better reflected the city of New Orleans.
“It was very important to me and our staff that we change the name of this club to something that represented New Orleans, Louisiana,” Benson said in a promotional video earlier this year. “We worked on it. It wasn’t something that just came out of the blue, overnight. We worked on it for a long period of time. You just can’t have a better name for Louisiana and New Orleans than the Pelican. It’s the perfect representative.”
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Louisiana is known as the “Pelican State.” The brown pelican is the state bird and it adorns both the state flag and state seal. New Orleans also had a Double-A minor league baseball known as the Pelicans for more than 70 years. The Pelicans name beat out more than 100 other possible nicknames during a lengthy brainstorming process.