Noce cools off on tiger initiative
Noce will discuss co-sponsoring tigers at the St. Louis Zoo.
By Megan Pearl
Published 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.”