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About

In late 2014, OWC reached out to the campaign manager of a petition on the Obie tiger cubs in Massillon, Ohio, and it was then that our fight against the antiquated, cruel tradition of leasing tiger cubs for high school football matches began.

As our research developed, we were appalled to discover the disappearances of cubs, the real tiger skin used for the traditional mascot, the lack of transparency, and worse. We will not stop until this tradition has ended in its entirety.

Brief History

TRADITION BEGAN: 1970

# OF CUBS: ~48

# MISSING: ~36

Major Issues

Psychological Impact

Tigers hear six times greater than a human. According to experts, the level of noise at football games could cause psychological damage to the tigers, especially considering their young age.

Public Danger

Not only are the cubs being handled by untrained and unlicensed handlers, but they are being taken in and out of various public facilities, which poses a danger to the public and the cubs.

No Accountability

No one knows where the cubs end up after the end of the season, or their origin/destination prior to, during, and after Stump Hill Farm's involvement from 1991-2015. Official tracking began in 2012.

Tiger Skin Mascot

Disturbingly the traditionally worn mascot is the skin and taxidermic head of a real tiger. The body was retired in 2010, but the head remains. They have used at least 5 different skins since 1938.

Disposable

Unlike live college mascots, where adult animals are typically kept through retirement, the Obie cubs are discarded after the season. Massillon uses a different cub every year.

Treated as Items

The school seems to have one goal in mind when acquiring a cub: Acquiring the cub. From 1991-2015, cubs were leased from Stump Hill Farm, a facility with numerous and very serious violations.

History Overview

In 1970, Massillon Washington High School started the tradition of leasing tiger cubs every year for their football season. They began leasing from Stump Hill Farm in Ohio in 1991, though as of 2015, they are no longer using cubs from that facility. The cubs arrive in August and are there through the football season until their return to Stump Hill Farm, or where they are now leased from, at the end of the season.

The school got the idea from watching an LSU football game.

All of the cubs that come in are temporarily named Obie before their return to their facility of origin. They are displayed on the sidelines during football games, taken to nursing homes, parades, grade schools, and sometimes even the state police.

The cubs are licensed and exhibited through the high school’s Booster Club. Bob Hollender has been the cub handler in charge of escorting the Obies for the past 28 years, along with the help of two other volunteers, George Mizer and Terry Bonk.

Though the tigers are returned to their facility of origin, no one knows where they go from there, with the exception of a few of them. It is a high probability that some may have been killed in the Zanesville, Ohio, massacre in 2011, something we are continuing to look into, and we know that four others were confiscated from a private owner in Ohio. A few still remain at Stump Hill Farm. State law mandates that the school pay for a lifetime of care for each cub following the end of the season, but considering the lack of transparency, it is a low probability that this is happening.


More Facts

O.B.I.E. stands for orange, black is everything.

The cubs came from Stump Hill Farm from 1991-2015.

There have been at least 48 cubs over the years, with multiple cubs used in a season. We suspected the number is even greater, though.

The cubs are generally hybrids.

The cubs are held in a facility maintained by the Booster Club.

After the Zanesville massacre, the school was exempt under the new law, Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal Act, that barred individuals from owning dangerous wildlife.

The Booster Club is in violation of the Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal Act, as their cubs are not returned to an accredited zoological facility and their lifetime of care is likely not paid for in accordance with the exemption stipulations.


Our Work on the Campaign

One World Conservation became aware of the Obie tiger cub situation in November 2014 and reached out to petition creator, Amanda Whelan. In reviewing this case, we have decided to launch a full campaign and have requested the assistance of cee4life, whom we worked with on Operation Orion to a successful conclusion. At this point, we have formed the Obie Tiger Task Force, which includes One World Conservation, cee4life, and Outreach for Animals of Ohio. Actions so far have included:

  • We are searching for the Obie tiger cubs, and they are being put into an international tiger stripe database for identification. *
  • We are reaching out to big cat experts.
  • We have placed an observation team on the grounds.
  • We support the original petition for the Obie cubs.
  • We have pulled files on USDA complaints against Stump Hill Farm.
  • We have reached out to the Mayor of Massillon, the Governor of Ohio, the USDA, CITES, and the Ohio Department of Agriculture, among other federal and state agencies.
  • We have launched a Facebook page to garner awareness.
  • CURRENT: We have launched a petition targeting the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

* Wherever the Obie cubs end up, we’ll be able to identify them in photographs from anywhere in the world.