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First, all four are arguably the most famous tiger mascots in college sports.
Second, as of this month, all four prestigious institutions of higher learning have joined forces to become part of the newly formed U.S. Tiger University Consortium.
Their goal. Save the tiger.
The new innovative consortium was initiated by Clemson University President James P. Clements, who serves on the Global Tiger Initiative Council.
This international council made up of business and conservation leaders was formed to assist the Global Tiger Forum in saving the remaining populations of wild tigers with a goal of doubling tiger numbers in the wild by 2022.
The Global Tiger Forum estimates there are only about 3,900 tigers remaining in the wild.
“These universities share the tiger mascot and benefit from that majestic symbol of strength, dignity and beauty, so they share a moral responsibility to apply all of our resources to save the animal that inspires that symbol,” stated Brett Wright, dean of the Clemson University College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences.
Auburn University’s Janaki Alavalapati, dean of the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences added:
“Each of our institutions possess various academic disciplines important to the future of tiger conservation and protection,” Alavalapati said. “This is an obvious example of the need for multi-disciplinary contribution, not just across colleges and departments, but across universities.”
Wright said the consortium will focus on several avenues to achieve its goal, including research that supports evidence-based decision-making by conservation professionals. Participating universities also have planned strategic communications to raise awareness of the worldwide problem with their many stakeholders.
Spreading the word
“Tiger” is the 2nd most popular mascot in the United States, with 1354 high school and colleges taking the name, according to the Sports website “Cheat Sheet.”
“We are excited about the consortium to help save tigers worldwide. We are planning several communications projects to help spread the word,” said Charles Martin, spokesperson, Auburn University Office of Communications and Marketing.
Birmingham Zoo’s support
The Consortium’s efforts are also supported by the Birmingham Zoo, home to a Malayan Tiger, named Kumar.
“We here at the Birmingham Zoo welcome and applaud all efforts to build awareness and to educate the public about the plight of the tiger. We stand behind the efforts of the newly formed U.S. Tiger University Consortium and deeply appreciate their support. What’s left to say but “Geaux Tigers”. concluded Dr. William Foster, President & CEO of the Birmingham Zoo.
What you can do
The new consortium is a huge breakthrough for Tiger conservation. How can you get involved? Follow the World Bank’s Global Tiger Initiative. Support groups like the World Wildlife Fund and our own Birmingham Zoo.
Most importantly, help folks get the word out about the new Auburn/Clemson/LSU/Mizzou – U.S. Tiger University Consortium.
We know Aubie, Mike the Tiger, Truman and The Tiger will appreciate it.