MSA commits $25,000 to live tigers

The organization will spend $5,000 per year for five years to sponsor zoos' tiger exhibits.

The Missouri Students Association passed a bill Wednesday committing the organization to a five-year $25,000 contract with the Saint Louis Zoo and the Dickerson Park Zoo to sponsor their tiger exhibits.

The bill passed during full Senate with 18 votes in favor of the bill, nine against and five abstentions.

According to the bill, the tiger sponsorship will cost a total of $150,000 over the course of five years. MSA has pledged to pay $5,000 each year for five years.

The contract can be reevaluated if necessary at the end of the five-year period, but MSA paying $25,000 throughout five years is small change in the big picture, former MSA Vice President Danielle Bellis said during Wednesday’s full Senate.

“If the sponsors decide to continue that is something that might happen,” she said. “We didn’t want to commit MSA to something permanent.”

Some senators expressed concern over funding the tiger sponsorship, that with tuition increases and hiring freezes in place the money could be better spent somewhere else.

MSA President Eric Woods confirmed in an email that the money coming from MU for this sponsorship is not coming from any fund that could be used elsewhere.

The cost has been spilt between MSA and five other departments and organizations on campus; the Athletics Department, Division of Student Affairs, the Student Success Center, the Mizzou Alumni Association and Tigers for Tigers, Bellis said.

Like MSA, each department and organization involved has committed to sponsor the zoo’s tigers for $5,000 each year for five years, creating a total cost of $30,000 for those organizations collectively.

The Athletics department will be working with the Saint Louis Zoo to use in-kind donations to substitute for the rest of the sponsorship’s cost, Woods said.

“Athletics is partially in cash and partially in-kind, which is a huge part of the contribution,” Woods said Wednesday during full Senate.

The money each department and organization is sponsoring the tigers with will contribute directly to the care of the tigers, Bellis said during Senate on Wednesday.

“The tiger is our mascot so the conservation of tigers should be important to every Mizzou student,” she said. “This sponsorship says that Mizzou cares about tigers and it shows that we want to not only work with Columbia, but that we want to partner with areas like Saint Louis and Springfield.”

Woods said the sponsorship will draw attention to MU in a positive light, often in areas where MU has little or no presence.

“It’s a good way to reach out to students from the Springfield area,” Bellis said. “It’s also a good way for children to connect to MU through the zoo and through the tiger sponsorship.”

The sponsorship will be a form of advertising to those that visit the tiger exhibits at both zoos, Bellis said.

“People connect to tigers and people will connect to Mizzou,” she said.

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