University of Tartu mascot will be soon introduced to university family

At the end of 2020, the University of Tartu mascot contest attracted a total of 97 submitted designs. The university family selected “Tiksu” by Lennart Rikk as the winning design. The design has now been developed further and Tiksu is ready to meet the university family at the end of August.

Since January, thorough development work has taken place to turn the winning design into the new official mascot of the University of Tartu. The original design needed some fine-tuning to make sure the mascot meets the values and image of the university. In addition to the author of Tiksu, the group working on the mascot design included an ornithologist, a creative director, a graphical design specialist as well as marketing and communication specialists. Besides the opinion of these experts, feedback received about the original design was taken into account.

The shape of Tiksu remained the same as in the original design. “The working group tried various other shapes, but we came to the conclusion that Lennart Rikk had already submitted a well-considered design to the contest and thus the shape of Tiksu did not need changing,” said Mariana Tulf, the leader of the mascot project. The biggest change is the colour of Tiksu. While experimenting with different colour combinations, it was decided that a blue Tiksu is best suited to the visual identity of the University of Tartu and is also the most Estonian. The specific blue colour is based on the university’s corporate visual identity.

Also, the species of Tiksu might raise questions. The winning design presented Tiksu as the exotic pompadour cotinga (Xipholena punicea) from the Amazon. However, as the colour of Tiksu was changed, the original red-plumaged bird species was no longer appropriate. In cooperation with the natural history museum and the ornithologist Marko Mägi, several bird species with blue feathers – both those breeding in Estonia as well as more exotic ones – were considered, but the working group concluded that Tiksu does not represent any particular species. “Tiksu is a mystic character inspired by many species. So, we decided to refrain from defining the species, as it was more important that Tiksu corresponds to the colours and values of the university,” explained Tulf.

By nature, Tiksu is a curious and charismatic bird who wishes to represent the values and interests of the university family. “I see Tiksu as a great character with lots of potential. In these unpredictable times, we need something positive to increase the sense of belonging both within the university as well as in society as a whole. Tiksu will surely do that,” added Tulf.

Currently, Tiksu is at a sewing shop in Rapla County, but will soon fly to Tartu so as not to miss the beginning of the academic year.

The use of the mascot will be organised by a team of volunteers led by the university’s Marketing Unit. All students and staff of the University of Tartu are welcome to apply to become part of this team of volunteers. If you would like to try what it is like to be inside a mascot or to lead a team of volunteers, write to the Marketing Unit of the university at

Further information: Mariana Tulf, University of Tartu Specialist for Marketing, leader of the mascot project, +372 737 6271,