Bengal tiger visits Moss Hill Elementary School

Bengal tiger visits Moss Hill Elementary School

Students adopted Ares from Tiger World in Rowan County

September 29, 2009 12:00 AM
Chris Lavender
Staff Writer

MOSS HILL — Prowling the Moss Hill Elementary School gymnasium, a newly adopted Bengal tiger greeted students earlier this month.

Ares, a 10-week-old Bengal tiger, has been adopted by Moss Hill students. The tiger will live at Tiger World in Rockwell, which is near Charlotte in Rowan County. Moss Hill students were able to get their first glimpse of Ares during a recent visit at the school.

Ares seemed somewhat nervous to meet his new Moss Hill family but soon warmed up to the students as they got to know him better.

“Some of our children have never been to a zoo,” Moss Hill counselor Laura Grosso said. “We were the first school to adopt a tiger from Tiger World.”

Tiger World is a nonprofit animal conservation and educational center dedicated to rescue, rehabilitation and preservation of exotic animals. Tiger World is open to the public and offers guided and self-guided tours. It is an accredited zoo and operates with no tax support.

Ares was among several exotic animals available for adoption. Moss Hill’s leaders decided to adopt Ares to help with his care and wanted Ares to represent the school as its official tiger mascot.

Grosso said she recently discovered Tiger World and thought it would be a great gesture to help out and adopted Ares.

“This is perfect for us,” Grosso said. “We will get updates on how Ares is developing.”

Ares currently weighs about 20 pounds, but will reach 200 pounds by his first birthday. Ares’ father, Zeus, weighs about 600 pounds.

When Ares reaches adult age, he will eat about 40 pounds of food every day.

“They grow really fast,” Tiger World spokeswoman Jennifer Mayes said. “Ares weighed 2 pounds when he was born.”

Mayes said Bengal tigers can’t purr like domestic cats and are primarily found in India and Bangladesh. There are nearly 1,500 Bengal tigers that live in the wild and their roars can be heard from almost two miles away.

Several Moss Hill students said they were excited to meet Ares this month. Fifth-grade students Trey Cash and Trent Davenport were among those who met Ares.

Both said Ares was one cool cat.

“I have never seen a Bengal tiger before,” Cash said. “It looked like my cat.”

Several students said they wished they could take Ares home. After about a one-hour visit at Moss Hill, Mayes and Tiger World employee Char Cook returned Ares to his sanctuary in Rockwell.

Moss Hill students will raise $100 per month to help care for Ares in Rockwell. Each student will donate 50 cents per month to help with Ares’ care.

For more information on Tiger World, visit

Chris Lavender can be reached at 252-559-1078 or

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