Tigers and Football Games Don’t Mix

Tigers and Football Games Don’t Mix

For over 40 years, The University of Memphis has trucked a live tiger to every football game to function as a team mascot. Over the years, three tigers have all been named TOM (Tigers of Memphis) with I, II, or III after their names. Even notorious big-cat abuser Joe Exotic never subjected tigers to the chaos of a roaring crowd of over 60,000 sports fans. It’s time to end this unnecessary, exploitive tradition. Don’t let TOM endure another traumatizing football season; tell the University to eliminate wild animal attendances from its football games!

Everyone knows big cats don’t belong at loud, crowded football games. Forcing wild animals, who by nature are very sensitive to their surroundings, into crowds of screaming people is stressful and cruel. TOM III serves as a fixture on Tiger Lane and in the south endzone during all games while hundreds of thousands of fans have their pictures taken with him every year.

The University of Memphis does not need a live tiger mascot when it has a human mascot named Pouncer who can easily interact with its audience while sparing TOM III from enduring the undue stress of attending every game.

In addition to being extremely stressful and cruel to the tigers who are deprived of space to roam, independence, and everything that wild animals need to thrive, it is very expensive to care for tigers. The first TOM lived in a garage before being housed at the local zoo where he was a “popular attraction” for nearly 20 years. After living in a private home for a few months, the second TOM moved to the $300,000 Tiger House at St. Nick’s Farm and Zoological Park, where he died of cancer at 17 years old. TOM III’s secret, protected enclosure cost $700,000 to build. All three TOM’s were “presented” as youngsters to the University at massive football games. 

Does the presence of a live tiger really intimidate rival teams? We think not, but it certainly puts them in real danger should the tiger escape, for instance when Louisiana State University’s tiger mascot Mike IV escaped and was shot with a tranquilizer gun three times before being recaptured.

Help us protect TOM III and additional future tigers from this terrible fate and let costumed mascot Pouncer flex his muscles instead! 

What YOU Can Do:

Please join us in urging The University of Memphis to ban its cruel practice of bringing live tigers to their games, where fans are put in danger and taught that tigers belong in cages for entertainment and taking selfies.

1. Call University of Memphis President M. David Rudd at 901-678-2234 and urge him to stop using live animal mascots and leave TOM III at his home during games.

You can say: I am calling to request that you please teach your fans compassion for animals by ending your live mascot program once TOM passes on. Please also let TOM stay home while your human mascot Pouncer attends games.

2. Send President Rudd a respectful message through Twitter and comment on The University of Memphis’ Facebook page.

3. Fill out the form on this page to send our letter to University of Memphis President M. David Rudd to implore him to end the use of live animal mascots and leave TOM III at home instead of attending loud, crowded games.

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