We get it – all of our pets are stars in our eyes. Some of them may even have their own Instagram following. But when it comes to local recognition or representation of Columbia SC, here’s a handful of some of the top dogs (and cats and birds and you get the point). 

Susan, The Giant Pacific Octopus

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden's newest is addition is Susan the cephalopod, a Giant Pacific octopus! She can be found at the recently debuted Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Aquarium and Reptile Conservation Center (Can you guess who she was named after?). While saying to hello to Riverbanks' new eight-legged friend, be sure to visit the more than 3,000 other animals that call the zoo home!

Cocky and Sir Big Spur

If there’s one animal you’re bound to see splashed all over town more than any other, it’s definitely a Gamecock. Whether you see it on merchandise, through artwork or hear its crows blasting through town on a loudspeaker every Friday, there’s no denying this is Gamecock Country. The garnet and black symbol of USC is brought to life through mascots Cocky and Sir Big Spur and the pair can be found on the sidelines during games. 

Synchronous Fireflies

Okay, we know fireflies are an insect, not an animal, but you can’t deny that the synchronous fireflies (aka Photinus carolinus) at Congaree National Park carry some serious clout. I mean, they inspired a whole minor league baseball team and bring in thousands of visitors each year. If that doesn’t qualify you as a local celebrity, I don’t know what does. Watch them light up the night sky each year in late spring. 


And speaking of the aforementioned baseball team, we would be remiss in not including their mascot, Mason, in this list. Ever since the Columbia Fireflies made their debut in 2016, the community immediately became fans. It’s hard to go anywhere without seeing someone sporting that glow-in-the-dark logo. Catch Mason doing his thing at each game. 


The Fireflies aren’t the only baseball team in town. In fact, the Blowfish summer collegiate team has been around since 2006. Named after a certain famous band that got their start during their years at UofSC, the Blowfish first emerged in Columbia when the professional Capital City Bombers team left. Then in 2014, they made the move over to Lexington County. Their mascot, Blowie, is sure to pump fans up for the game. 

Purple Martins

In the same vein as the synchronous fireflies, the Columbia region is also home to another summertime natural phenomenon – the annual roosting of the Purple Martins on Bomb Island at Lake Murray. Each summer, beginning in July, up to a million Purple Martins (a member of the sparrow family) fill the skies as they roost at the largest Purple Martin sanctuary in North America. Pack a cooler and go for a sunset boat ride to see them fly in or start your day on the water to see them take back off at sunrise. 


If you’ve ever been to Soda City Market or popped up to NOMA, then you’re probably familiar with a certain orange cat beckoning you toward some of the best biscuits of your life at Rambo’s Fat Cat Biscuits. That’s right, Rambo was the owners' real life cat who's been immortalized through their branding and in our hearts. Kind of puts a different perspective on the phrase, “making biscuits,” doesn’t it. 

Sally the Salamander

You may have seen some gilded lizards posted up on the sides of a few buildings around town. These metallic little critters are actually spotted salamanders, the state amphibian, and mark the stops on the Sally Salamander Walking Tour. Happy hunting!

Champ Staley

Move over, Airbud. The name says it all – if there’s one true king of the basketball court, then surely it’s Champ Staley – the incomparable Dawn Staley’s four-legged friend. With a few thousand followers of his own on Instagram (@champstaley2017), he’s a household name just like his momma.