Washington High School’s Football Team Mascot
Washington High School’s football team in Massillon, Ohio has showcased a tiger cub at their football games for decades, but the 2015 Washington High School Tiger’s season might kick off without their live mascot.
The athletic boosters lease a cub they call Obie each year to be the mascot of their football team. This year however, the boosters must prove that the school’s tigers will live at an accredited facility when they’ve outgrown their job as mascots. The school must also ensure the tigers will be cared for throughout their lives.
The state Agriculture Department, which oversees permits for exotic animals, was yet to receive the documentation as of Tuesday, August 25, according to spokeswoman Erica Hawkins. The team’s season starts Thursday. Boosters have been working to find a way to legally meet requirements, district Superintendent Richard Goodright said.
Ohio Requires Registration of Exotic Animals
Ohio began requiring owners to register exotic animals after authorities were forced to kill nearly 50 lions, tigers, bears and other animals released by their owner in Zanesville, Ohio in 2011. The law granted the Massillon school a limited exemption.
Massillon locals say the tigers are well cared for during their stints as mascot, when they are kept in a cage in view of spectators. Animal welfare organizations have raised questions about how the tigers are treated and what happens to them after the football season. Several former Obies were among animals removed this year from an unlicensed Toledo-area sanctuary whose owner said he took in creatures that no one else wanted.
One World Conservation, a nonprofit based in San Antonio, has called members of the school board to urge them to end the tradition, said the group’s CEO, Karrie Kern. A noisy football game, she said, is no place for a big cat with sensitive hearing and potentially dangerous instincts.
“I’m from Texas. You know, we’re all about football, too, and I get that, but what that cub is experiencing is unbelievable,” Kern said.
The booster club has indicated it won’t easily give up on the cub, which isn’t funded by the school. Matt Keller, president of the athletic booster club told the Massillon Independent that they want the live tiger mascot program to keep going.
Former Tiger Cub Mascots Not Cared For By Massillon Tiger Boosters.
Lilly, last year’s tiger cub mascot was returned to Stump Hill Farm, the roadside zoo which bred her once the 2014 season ended.
Shortly after returning to Stump Hill, the young cub’s paw became trapped in the fencing of her enclosure. Lilly suffered for hours and desperate to free herself, began to gnaw her foot off, sustaining injuries which required the amputation of her toe. This type of disfigurement of the paw can cause chronic pain for life and Lilly was only 9 months old when she was injured.
Stump Hill was assessed for compliance with the Animal Welfare Act, and according to the USDA inspection reports, the owner of Stump Hill hid the injured tiger, denying she had a cub on the premises. After learning of Lilly’s accident from a local veterinarian, the inspectors asked the owner again. This time she claimed she had forgotten the cub. The facility was cited for both the injury to Lilly and for lying to inspectors.
Time To End This Live Tiger Cub Mascot Tradition
It is time to end the live tiger cub mascot tradition. Leasing a tiger cub every year is encouraging breeding of tigers outside of conservation protocol. These tigers are facing a life of neglect. There simply aren’t enough facilities to care for tigers. It is time Massillon High School ends the live cub tradition.
They can use the money budgeted to lease the live cub to buy a costume.