Category Archives: Squirrels

Bunny on Campus

By: Stephanie Yee, C’08

During Alumni Weekend 2014, I spotted the most adorable bunny near The Palestra. Everyone knows about the huge squirrel population on Penn’s campus, but did you know about the bunnies? Tell us, have you seen other creatures roaming the campus?

Adorable bunny near The Palestra

Adorable bunny near The Palestra


Close-up of the bunny

Close-up of the bunny


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Filed under Squirrels, Stephanie Y.

Breakfast at Sweeten

Author: Emilie Kretschmar

Last week Sweeten was treated to its own wildlife adventure. A very large hawk decided to perch atop a neighboring building and have breakfast.


He was a beautiful animal and didn’t seem to mind when us Sweeten folk came out onto the balcony to photograph him. Breakfast was his main concern.

Lisa Marie captures the action for social media.

Lisa Marie captures the action for social media.

Upon further investigation—googling “hawks of Pennsylvania”—I discovered that we were watching a red-tailed hawk, also known as a chickenhawk. Although they rarely prey on standard-sized chickens, they do love squirrels and pigeons of which there are many in Philadelphia. The specie also seems to be unfazed by human activity so, unlike many of their fellow birds-of-prey, these hawks are often found in cities like our own Philadelphia.

Watching animals up close is a fascinating thing. It can be both beautiful and repellent at the same time, which is an unusual combination. Last year on safari, Penn alumni and I experienced a similar sensation. Lions on the hunt is a beautiful spectacle, but also nerve-racking as you wait for something gruesome to happen (or not happen, in our case). If animal watching is of interest to you, join us this fall on our alumni tour of East Africa.

My favorite shot from the lion hunt in the Ngorongoro Caldera. The buffalo win this round.

My favorite shot from the Ngorongoro Caldera lion hunt. The buffalo win this round.

But if Africa is a little too far for your taste (or your wallet), make sure you look upwards next time you’re in Philadelphia or on campus at Penn. Perhaps you’ll spot another red-tailed hawk!

Our red-tailed friend.

Our red-tailed friend.

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Filed under Emilie, Squirrels, Sweeten Alumni House, The Sweeten Life

How Sweet it Is: Sweeten’s Sweets

Author: Emilie Kretschmar

Sweeten Alumni House is quite literally a sweet place to work. This holiday season we have been inundated with a plethora of brightly colored packages all bearing delicious temptations. My office is in a strategic location- right next to the copy machine and across from the second-floor counter where all the sweets eventually end up. Thanks to my close proximity, I have been able to document a week of Sweeten’s sweets.


President Amy Gutmann stays up late into the night to bake cookies for the entire campus. Just kidding, but it was awfully thoughtful of her to send these to us from Famous 4th Street Cookies.



Monday was off to a tasty start with holiday packages from vendors including a popcorn three-way, chocolate-covered pretzels, assorted chocolates, and Scottish shortbread cookies. It ended with even more sweets, when Sweeten hosted a baby shower complete with a chocolate/vanilla marble cake.




After staff slept off their sugar comas, it was back to work on Tuesday with homemade Christmas cookies from our own Liz Pinnie. Note the beautiful (and delicious) spritz cookies. And what would a day at Sweeten be without chocolaty, peanut-buttery goodness wrapped in colorful holiday foil? With a little help from our work study students, we devoured the entire basket of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups too.

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Another delicious popcorn tin followed by a party for December birthdays. Lynn Carroll made cupcakes!




Thursday was the best treat of all. My little dog, Axl, came to visit in his holiday bandana. He loves visiting campus. Not only is there a lot of green space for him to romp, but there are tons of squirrels to chase. Axl spent his lunch break outside saying hello to passers-by and trying to chase Penn’s furry critters.



We are all at home with our friends and family, enjoying our own holiday treats and traditions, as I hope, were you. Happy holidays from all of us at Sweeten!

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Filed under Emilie, Squirrels, Sweeten Alumni House, The Sweeten Life

Continuing Education for Alumni: Tiesto…?

Author: Leigh Ann P.

On most days when I arrive at Sweeten Alumni House in the early morning hours, it is serenely quiet and peaceful on campus.  I can spend some time appreciating the fact that I work on this beautiful college campus in the middle of a major urban city.  The merry squirrels dart dangerously close around my feet, having grown accustomed to a life of hand-feeding by kind, unsuspecting humans.  Sometimes all I can hear at that hour are my own footsteps on Locust Walk.  That is, when I wear my super-loud boots. 

But most mornings are not Spring Fling ticket-distribution day.

My colleagues and I have seen signs, banners and sidewalk chalk for a few weeks advertising “Tiesto,” and by our powers combined, we deduced that he/she/they/it was/were for Spring Fling.  I like to think that working at a college keeps me young and hip, but this is a dirty lie.  (Do the kids still say “spaz?”)  I have no clue who or what Tiesto is.  It makes me feel even older knowning that a couple of years ago when Snoop Dogg was the Spring Fling headliner, it was the students who didn’t know who he was.  After all, the incoming students of the Class of 2016 were born after “What’s My Name?” was released. 

So thanks to the sleuthing of one N. Elizabeth Pinnie, we have learned that Tiesto is a Dutch trance DJ, and Penn students are willing to camp out on a weeknight for the chance to see him perform live, even sleep on the steps of Sweeten as my fellow Sweeteners are forced to step on their blankets and bags of Doritos just to make it through the front door.

Unfortunately for the students, they’ll have to wait until April 13th for their Tiesto dreams to become reality. You, on the other hand, can enjoy his jams right now!

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Filed under Campus Life, Leigh Ann P., Locust Walk Talk, Squirrels, The Sweeten Life, Traditions, Uncategorized, View from Sweeten

Squirrels on Film

Author: Aimee LaBrie

We used to have an employee here who referred to me as “The Squirrel Lady,” because every time we were outside together walking on Locust, I would make a “ccchhi-ccchhi” noise at the numerous tame squirrels that dot the green (roughly translated, “ccchhi-ccchhi” means “I have potato chips” in Squirrelese).  I suppose I can’t blame her for thinking it odd that I would want to feed the squirrels–to most people, they are just rodents with fluffy tails.  But spend any time on the Penn campus, and you will see that the squirrels here are more like cats than rats; they are not afraid of people and they will eat pretty much anything you give them. Not only that, but they will come up to you and take the food from your fingers with tiny, human-like paws and then sit back on their haunches and gnaw it up until their cheeks are plump.  I am certain there will come a day when I call over to a squirrel and it runs toward me, takes a flying leap off of a bench, and lands on my face. Until then, I’ll just continue to be The Squirrel Lady.

Here is a photographic example of how busy the squirrels are on campus, and how they strive to stay on top of news from the DP (photos courtesy of Leigh Ann):


He has found today's newspaper. Now just has to figure out how to get it back to his nest.


In dragging it back home, he panics, wondering if perhaps this is too much paper for his limited space.


Practicality wins out as he chooses just the celebrity section.


Filed under Aimee L., Squirrels