Stop the use of live tiger cubs as mascots
At Massillon Washington High School in Ohio, football passions run deep. And team traditions are held as sacred, even when they prove to be cruel. Every football season, Massillon pays to bring in a new live tiger cub as its mascot. At least 45 cubs have been used since 1970, paraded before screaming crowds, then sent off to live in questionable, sometimes deplorable, conditions -- all in the name of school spirit.
It is time to end a tradition that encourages the breeding and abuse of exotic animals. A tiger belongs in the wild, not a stadium or a cage. We are asking the Ohio Department of Agriculture to remove the permit that allows the Massillon Tiger Booster Club to lease the tiger cubs.
The cubs, dubbed “Obie” for their short time at the high school, are held in small pens in front of deafening crowds -- tigers’ hearing is three times stronger than people’s, and the noise causes them to defecate uncontrollably in their tiny enclosures. At the end of the football season, some are sent to certified sanctuaries. But the school doesn’t track where they go, and several “Obies” have been found in roadside zoos.
Massillon Washington High School officials say they cannot help where the tigers end up -- they can only take care of the animal while they have it. But their hands are not tied -- they have a choice not to use live tiger cubs and fund exotic animal breeders. Since they have refused to make the right choice, the Ohio Department of Agriculture must intervene.
When Massillon Washington High School started the live mascot tradition in 1970, attitudes about the use and treatment of animals were very different. We now understand so much more about the needs of animals and the dangers of the exotic animal trade. While they may only lease the tigers, they are funding the breeding of highly endangered wild animals.
Please join us in calling for the Ohio Department of Agriculture to remove the permit that allows the Massillon Tiger Booster Club to lease the tiger cubs.
- Dangerous Wild Animal Office
Ohio Department of Agriculture
With all due respect,
We the undersigned fully support the position of One World Conservation and the Obie Tiger Task Force and respectfully request that you enforce the Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal Act of 2012 in regards to the exploitation of the Massillon Washington High School Obie tiger cubs that are leased annually from Stump Hill Farm for the school’s football season.
While we commend the Ohio Department of Agriculture for putting pressure on the Massillon Tiger Booster Club in recent months in the form of a request to provide required affidavits backdating the leasing of the cubs since 2012, this simply is not enough.
The law must be enforced as it is written, which states that the Massillon Tiger Booster Club must provide a lifetime of care for each live mascot that has come into their possession and upon their retirement as Obies be sent to an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited facility. Neither of these stipulations has been followed through with since the passing of the law in 2012, as Stump Hill Farm, where the Obies are returned in not accredited by any major zoological bodies, nor is it likely that the Massillon Tiger Booster Club has been able to pay for a lifetime of care for these cubs.
Stump Hill Farm and the Massillon Tiger Booster Club spearheaded the exemption that was put into place as the Ohio Wild Dangerous Animal Act was being enacted, so ignorance of the law is not an excusable defense in this situation. Furthermore, the Massillon Tiger Booster Club’s defense that they are leasing versus owning the cubs does not make them exempt from the law, as they have possession of the cubs for several months and are required by law to swear an affidavit that they are meeting these requirements—something that has not been completed annually with these cubs as required.
We are asking that the Ohio Department of Agriculture enforce the law and end the unnecessary, antiquated tradition of the annual exploitation of the Obie tiger cubs. As the regulatory body of Ohio, you are in a position to correct a tradition that has been allowed to go on for far too long.
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