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Massillon Tigers still hope to start football season with their mascot, Obie
The team's boosters are trying to find a tiger cub whose care will be up to the levels now required by the Ohio Department of Agriculture
by WKSU's KABIR BHATIA


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Kabir Bhatia
 
The Massillon Tigers have used a live cub as a mascot for decades.
Courtesy of KABIR BHATIA
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Washington High School in Massillon has its first football game Thursday, but it may have to start the season without its mascot: a live tiger cub named Obie. WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports.
LISTEN: Massillon searches for a new tiger

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Massillon’s football boosters have been trying to rent a cub – as they have for decades – for the season. But now they must comply with Ohio Department of Agriculture requirements for the tiger’s care after it finishes its year with the school.

Cindy Huntsman is president of Stump Hill Farm, which has supplied more than a dozen Obies in the past. The farm is not supplying this year’s tiger since Stump Hill is still in the process of being certified by the Zoological Association of America. But she says the Obies lead a good life once they retire.

“We give them an environment that's enriching for them. They eat about -- when they first come back -- about 10 pounds of raw meat a day. And by the time they're an adult, they'll eat anywhere between 15 and 20 pounds of raw meat a day. And they have other tigers that they can interact with."

Huntsman adds that Obie's time on the gridiron is only one part of his year in Massillon.

“They’re not only mascots, they’re also educational ambassadors. The boys that are the handlers from the city of Massillon and the booster club transport the cats to schools and nursing homes for educational purposes. When they just hear Obie is coming to visit, a smile comes to their face and it does brighten their day.”

Animal rights activists have said exposing tigers to large crowds is a danger both to the animals and, potentially, the public.

The state requirements were passed after a Zanesville man released about 50 wild animals from his private zoo before killing himself.

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