October 11, 2022

With more than 5,200 acres and 146 years of history, there are bound to be a few secrets and mysteries around Texas A&M University. We searched through archives at Cushing Library, online TexAgs forums and even the r\Aggies Reddit thread to compile both confirmed and questionable information about buildings on campus. 

Do you know these little-known facts and suspicions about Aggieland? 

Fallout Shelters Turned Food Facilities 

From the late 1950s through the 1970s, areas underneath the Academic Building, Sbisa Dining Hall, the Doherty Building and the Animal Science Building were turned into bomb shelters. With nuclear war imminent, the shelters were stocked with barrels of water, survival equipment and many boxes of non-perishable foods. 

Today, one of these bomb shelters houses the Sbisa Underground Market that serves students Chick-fil-A, Papa Johns, Houston Street Subs and Smoothie King. As for the rest, they are no longer designated as bomb shelters, and emergency provisions have been removed from the buildings. 

Coke Building Conspiracies 

Lions, Tigers and Bears, Oh My! 

During his time as the ninth university president, William Bizzell witnessed many historic Aggie moments, including nearly half of campus empty as Aggies joined the fight in World War I and the birth of the 12th Man tradition in 1922. What few know is that Bizzell was also the driving force behind the first and only zoo at Texas A&M. 

Lions, deer, ostriches and more used to call campus home at Aggieland's first and only zoo. (Photos: Cushing Memorial Library and Archives)

From 1920 to 1925, lions, tigers, elk, buffaloes, timber wolves, deer, alligators, snakes, black bears and an elephant lived across the train tracks on West Campus. Bizzell envisioned the zoo to be for the enjoyment of students and visitors while also being educational, but it wasn’t long before the zoo lost its charm on everyone, including Bizzell. The time and money it required, along with the unwanted noise factor of exotic animals, resulted in its closure under Bizzell’s successor, Thomas Walton.  

Ankh-Hap the Aggie 

Shortly after exotic animals roamed Aggieland, Mark Francis, the first dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, donated his fossil collection to establish a museum of natural history on campus. Housed in the Serum Laboratory, located where the Langford Building now stands, the museum collected many unique prehistoric fossils, taxidermy and the oldest alumnus of Texas A&M: an Egyptian mummy named Ankh-Hap. 

Meet Texas A&M's oldest alumnus: an Egyptian mummy named Ankh-Hap! (Photo: Cushing Memorial Library and Archives)

When the museum closed in 1965, Ankh-Hap was put on an indefinite loan with the Houston Museum of Natural Science and resides there today as part of the Hall of Ancient Egypt. It’s no secret, however, that the spirit of Aggieland is still with him.