Mizzou partners with Missouri zoos to support our endangered mascot.
As the newest feline in a Southeastern Conference that already features a pair of tigers (Auburn and Louisiana State) and a wildcat (Kentucky), Mizzou has taken a humane approach to its live mascot connection. By partnering with Missouri zoos in Kansas City, Springfield and St. Louis, MU helps raise awareness across the Show-Me State about our endangered representative.
For instance, Mizzou contributed to the Kansas City Zoo’s $600,000 Tiger Terrace renovation unveiled Aug. 28, 2012. Home to Sumatran brothers Manis and Langka, the habitat is dedicated in part to Mason Kempf, a 9-year-old boy from Overland Park, Kan., who loved tigers and died of cancer in March 2011. There are only about 400 Sumatran tigers worldwide.
“My son is going to be studying to be a veterinarian,” said Mizzou Director of Athletics Mike Alden. “Some of the experiences that he had [at the zoo] contributed to that desire.”
The Saint Louis Zoo unveiled an MU sponsorship plaque at its Big Cat Country exhibit, as well as four “enrichment” balls for the resident Amur tigers Oct. 4. The toys represent several of Mizzou’s home football opponents: Vanderbilt, Alabama, Kentucky and Syracuse.
Springfield’s Dickerson Park Zoo renamed its tiger habitat “The Mizzou Tiger Reserve” — featuring two 10-year-old Malayan tigers, Jalil and Petra — in honor of the partnership.
All three zoos frequently employ Mizzou student interns.
“Big cats are among the most popular animals with our guests,” says Mike Crocker, Springfield zoo superintendent. “The Mizzou Tiger Reserve will help us care for our tigers at the zoo, allow us to expand our conservation support for tigers in Southeast Asia and continue our in-park education efforts.”