Noce, Woods name tiger habitat

The tiger habitat at the Dickerson Park Zoo was named the Mizzou Tiger Reserve on Wednesday.

Missouri Students Association President Eric Woods joined his predecessor Tim Noce earlier this week at the Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield to announce the Mizzou Tiger Reserve habitat. The zoo is home to two Malayan tigers, Jalil and Petra.

“The next step for Springfield is to make everything official,” Woods said. “We’re going to be finding ways that we can let MU students know about their relationship. We’ve had talks about trying to arrange trips to see the habitat at the Springfield Zoo.”

The total cost to sponsor the habitat at Dickerson Park Zoo will be $25,000 during the next five years. If a deal is reached with the Saint Louis Zoo, it would cost MU $100,000 for a five-year agreement.

“It’s been a collaboration of many different departments on campus,” Wood said. “The way we’ve been approaching the St. Louis deal is to offer them an in-kind donation through advertising for the athletics department as part of the exchange.”

In 2010, Noce publicly stated his hope to buy a live tiger for MU. Memphis University and Louisiana State University also have tigers as their mascots and bought live tigers for their schools. Noce’s campaign to buy a tiger for the school fell flat when MU balked at the cost and maintenance required for the animal. Since then, Noce has become a major force in sponsoring a tiger at local Missouri zoos.

“I thought it was a really good opportunity to follow that whole media craziness with the live tiger,” Noce said. “What we wanted to was make sure that we would try and continue on with the idea without the controversy.”

Originally, Woods reached out to every major zoo in Missouri to sponsor the live tiger habitat. Both Dickerson and Saint Louis discussed the idea of tiger sponsorship with MSA, but according to Woods the Kansas City Zoo was not as receptive to communications from MU.

“We reached out to the three major zoos in Missouri,” Woods said. “Kansas City never returned any of our calls or communications. Dickerson Park responded, and so did St. Louis.”

Starting in 1999, MU’s mascot preservation program, Mizzou Tiger for Tigers, was the first college program of its kind. Aiming to save the school's mascot from extinction and harm, students and faculty have worked for the past 12 years to sponsor a tiger of their own. Because MU is a tax-funded institution, they are often unable to donate funds directly to the program. According to the Tigers for Tigers website, funding for the organization comes from its student chapter.

“While they don’t have a lot of money, they played a big role in the conversations we had about this sponsorship,” Wood said. “The aim is to raise awareness about the plight of tigers and their endangered status.”

Seven MU groups have contributed funding to the tiger sponsorship effort, including MSA, Mizzou Online, Mizzou Alumni Association, University Bookstore, the College of Agricultural Food and Natural Resources, Intercollegiate Athletics and University Affairs.

“The idea was to create awareness for our mascot as a whole,” Noce said. “I think we worked to show how we can actually care for that type of animal.”

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