The New Orleans Pelicans' new "Pierre" mascot. (@PelicansNBA)
The New Orleans Pelicans unveiled a new look for their mascot, "Pierre The Pelican," on Wednesday.
The redesign comes two days after the Pelicans sent out an elaborate, cheeky press release announcing that Pierre would be undergoing reconstructive surgery to address a "broken beak" sustained when he ran into a basket stanchion while playing pick-up ball with a number of other mascots.
The original design drew criticism and was the subject of some mocking memes upon its unveiling back in October, and Grantland.com reported in January that Pierre would be receiving a new, "less scary" look.
The new Pierre's costume features the same jersey and similar wings as the original mascot but includes a brand new head with a yellow, cartoony beak. The eyes have also been redesigned to look a little less menacing. Pierre 2.0 is ready for 2014 All-Star Weekend, which is set for New Orleans and will run from Thursday through Sunday.
The updated Pierre (left) compared to the original Pierre (right). (Pelicans.com)
The updated look is decidedly more restrained, generic and kid-friendly that the original Pierre, who sported a blue jersey and shorts, matching blue gloves, blue accents on his yellow, furry wings and blue eyebrows. The original's face looked a bit like an over-sized clown mask, with an attention-grabbing red mouth and beak. The whole thing was pretty extravagant.
The original "Pierre The Pelican" was unveiled back in October. (@PelicansNBA)
This tentative reaction from one young fan memorably encapsulated the creepy vibe given off by the original Pierre.
A young fan encounters "Pierre The Pelican." (SB Nation)
The Pelicans' press release announcing Pierre's redesign included comments from the team's doctor and a local wildlife expert.
“This will be a rather unconventional surgery for us," Pelicans team physician Dr. Matthew McQueen said in a statement. "I am not sure we have something to compare this to. It will be quite complicated and will require the use of some unconventional tools and instruments to reconstruct his beak."
Carolyn Atherton, the curator of birds for the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, added her two cents.
"We do see a lot of head trauma cases with pelicans," Atherton said. "Since they are the plunge-divers, sometimes they’ll hit sharp objects and a lot of times, they’ll have tears in their pouch or even eye problems. We’ve had quite a few pelicans we’ve treated for injuries similar to Pierre’s. After they’ve been treated, they’ve all come back looking bigger, stronger, faster and ready to take on the world."
This photo of Pierre sustaining his "injury" was also released on Monday.
Pierre the Pelican suffers a "broken beak" while playing pick-up basketball. (Pelicans)
A day later, the Pelicans sent out this photograph of "post-surgery Pierre" recuperating in the hospital.
Pierre The Pelican underwent successful beak surgery. (@PelicansNBA)
Pierre replaced “Hugo The Hornet” as part of the Pelicans' re-branding effort. The New Orleans Hornets officially changed their moniker to the Pelicans in April 2013 after initially unveiling the name change and the new color scheme back in January 2013. Hugo had been with the organization since its inception as an expansion franchise in Charlotte in 1988.
"Hugo the Hornet" served as the mascot for the Hornets in Charlotte and New Orleans. (Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)
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.
Back in December, the Charlotte Bobcats, who are reclaiming the "Hornets" moniker after this season, unveiled a new logo and announced that Hugo The Hornet would be returning as the organization's mascot. In more somber -- and legitimate -- injury news, the Raptors mascot blew out his Achilles tendon back in October and was ruled out for the 2013-14 season.