Amanda Visser protests at yesterday's MukMuk rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

If an activist group calling themselves the MukMuk Mascoteers has their way, the virtual critter will achieve official mascot status for the remainder of the Olympics.

Organizers led a nearly 20-person rally yesterday afternoon around the Vancouver Art Gallery, chanting slogans of “marmots have feelings too” and “free MukMuk now.”

The group attracted quite the crowd of onlookers – about 50 people – who were in the area taking pictures of the countdown clock and the mural currently wrapping the gallery.

“We are just a group of people having a great time at the Olympics,” said Shantel Shave, co-ordinator of the MukMuk Mascoteers.

“We just wanted to get out there, add a bit more fun and make sure this doesn’t happen to sidekicks in the future.”

While yesterday’s rally was planned over the past week, support for MukMuk – who represents the endangered marmot population of Vancouver Island – has been building since 2008 when the official Olympic mascots, Quatchi, Miga and Sumi, were announced.

Originally, MukMuk was meant to remain an online-based sidekick to the big three, but overwhelming public support forced VANOC to put MukMuk on official Olympic merchandise. 

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