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Noce cools off on tiger initiative

Noce will discuss co-sponsoring tigers at the St. Louis Zoo.

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Missouri Tigers for Tigers President Stacey Winkeler discusses the idea of getting a live tiger as a football mascot with group members Monday in the Veterinary Medicine Auditorium. Missouri Tigers for Tigers formed in 1999 to promote awareness about the endangered status of wild tigers.

Soa Ha/Staff Photographer

Feb. 2, 2010

Missouri Students Association President Tim Noce is slowing down on the live tiger initiative.

"There have been a few people who want to spearhead it, but it's taken a lot of my time up and it wasn't a part of my platform," Noce said.

As of Monday, a petition from change.org against the idea of a live tiger at MU has acquired 176 signatures. The Facebook group, "NO to Mizzou buying a Tiger to have at sporting events!" has 997 members. The group, "Students and Alumni in Support of a Real Mizzou Tiger," has 1,306 members.

"It's extremely popular at LSU," said Stuart Watkins, the student government president of Louisiana State University. "Mike the Tiger has been a timeless tradition for a long time now."

Watkins said the first tiger was purchased in the early 20th century and bought with the students' own money.

"Mike the Tiger is extremely well cared for," Watkins said. "He has a multi-million dollar habitat and professionals that specialize in care for exotic animals."

LSU presents Mike the Tiger in the stadium for every home football game. It is a Bengal-Siberian cross-bred tiger and the largest Mike the Tiger LSU has ever had. During 2007, when the LSU tiger was purchased, there was dissent from the LSU student body, Watkins said.

The student group, Mizzou Tigers for Tigers, held an informational meeting about domesticated and wild tigers and also aimed to persuade its audience against the idea of buying a tiger for MU.

"We are grounded in the irony that while we are surrounded by great pride for our MU Tigers, tigers in the wild are going extinct," Mizzou Tigers for Tigers President Stacey Winkeler said.

The group works to raise money to support natural habitat conservation for tigers and also to lobby for laws and restrictions for tiger ownership in Missouri. In the past decade, the number of tigers in the wild has dropped from 10,000 to 4,000, Winkeler said. This has been attributed to loss of habitat, increase in human population, logging and palm oil extraction.

Mizzou Tigers for Tigers is lobbying for Missouri legislation that aims to have the Missouri Department of Agriculture enforce standardization of ownership, transportation, breeding, identification, location, protection from the public, husbandry, health care and an account of all deaths of tigers.

Winkeler said the Missouri Department of Agriculture would be responsible for enforcing it and it's on a limited budget. The department wants to make sure it's big enough of a problem in Missouri for them to spend money on it. But if it were to pass, all the department would have to do is paperwork.

Missouri has no laws for tiger ownership. There is more difficulty involved in legally owning a squirrel as a pet than there is a tiger, Winkeler said.

"I'm meeting with athletics to see if we can co-sponsor tigers at the St. Louis Zoo," Noce said. "If we were going to get a live tiger, it would take longer than a year to build the habitat and get together everything else."

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Article comments

Feb. 2, 2010 at 2:36 p.m.

Trumen T tiger : If we got a tiger we could let it roam campus. It would make getting to class a little more interesting.

Feb. 2, 2010 at 9:39 p.m.

Jay the Jayhawk: Hey...At least you guys have a REAL animal as a mascot.

Feb. 2, 2010 at 10:42 p.m.

SmartyPants: Only if we get a vegan Tiger.

Feb. 4, 2010 at 10:07 a.m.

Shere Khan: A vegan tiger? What a loss of dignity: no longer would Truman eat Jayhawks for lunch; what ridiculousness to suggest a cat stop eating birds. I would rather see support for MU sponsoring tigers via private donations, but especially sponsoring Bengal tigers (for these are our mascot specifically). If I am not mistaken, the tigers at the St. Louis Zoo are Siberian, not Bengals, and while I would support those tigers, they should not be adopted as "live mascots" because they're the wrong subspecies. MU would become a laughingstock if Siberians were adopted as live mascots when ours is clearly known to be a Bengal. Other, more sensible, directions need be considered.

Feb. 4, 2010 at 9:38 p.m.

Hate on the Siberian?: Last time I checked we are the Mizzou Tigers, not the Cincinnati Bengals... I personally think that siberian tigers are BA and would make the Mizzou Tiger conotation just that much better! GO STL ZOO!

Feb. 5, 2010 at 1:13 p.m.

Eapen Thampy: Tuition is going up and student organizations that provide students with academically and professionally oriented activities are struggling for money and this nutjob wants. to. buy. a. tiger.

Feb. 9, 2010 at 10:33 a.m.

Student ORGs?: Actually Eapen, as someone who sat in on SFRC, ORG (the group that provides student orgs with money) had a carryover this year... that means that those groups you are talking about did not APPLY for the money. and this nutjob does. not. know. how. to. fill. out. paperwork...

Feb. 9, 2010 at 10:53 a.m.

Tim Noce: Dear Eapen, I would like to address your comment by saying first of all tuiton has been frozen for the last two years and unless you are an out-of-state student you have nothing to worry about at this time. Second I have committed to not using student dollars on something like this (see http://www.themaneater.com/stories/2010/2/2/noce-doesnt-plan-spend-student-fees-tiger/ ) If your student organization is struggling for money, I would advise that you apply for funding through ORG, they fund countless organizations, big and small. They are good people over there and are happy to work with any type of organization. I would like to thank you for stating your concerns and if there is anything else MSA can do to lead these student organizations in the right direction let me know. Sincerely, Tim Noce MSA President

Feb. 22, 2010 at 5:21 p.m.

Robert: People at University of Missouri-St Louis are very upset by this proposal. Our facilities are falling apart with absolutely no hope in the remotely near future of relief.

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