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Media contacts:
Saint Louis Zoo 314/781-0900
Susan Gallagher, 314/646-4633
Christy Childs, 314/646-4639
Joanna Bender, 314/646-4703

University of Missouri: Christian Basi 573/882-4430

Mizzou, Zoo Announce Mizzou Sponsorship to Support Endangered Tigers

Tigers will be strutting their stripes at the Saint Louis Zoo Thursday, Oct. 4, at 10:30 a.m.

The Zoo's Dana Brown President and CEO Dr. Jeffrey Bonner joins University of Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden and other university officials and student leaders to announce Mizzou's support for tigers at the Zoo and in the wild.

The public is invited to Big Cat Country to see a Zoo Amur tiger get enrichment that will include balls carrying the names of some of Mizzou's competitors on the field. Also on hand will be Mizzou's beloved mascot, Truman the Tiger, who will be entertaining crowds after the unveiling of a colorful, tiger-centric plaque marking this sponsorship.

"Mizzou's support for tigers at the Zoo and in the wild will help us care for our tigers, as we work to conserve endangered tigers in the wild and to educate everyone about the need to protect this magnificent animal," said Dr. Bonner.

MU Athletic Director Mike Alden added, "Our university was at the forefront of conservation awareness efforts in 1998 when it founded Mizzou Tigers for Tigers, and we are pleased to announce this new partnership with our friends at the Saint Louis Zoo. Our university is known worldwide for its collaborative research efforts, and we hope that our alumni and supporters in the St. Louis area are able join us on Oct. 4 as we work to address the real-life challenges facing our mascot, both in Asia and across the globe.

Mizzou has invited local alums to come, but anyone wearing Mizzou-branded apparel to the Zoo that day receives a 10-percent discount on Zoo food service and gift shop purchases. On hand to answer questions about tigers will be the Zoo's Vice President of Animal Collections Jack Grisham, Zoo Curator of Carnivores Steve Bircher and University of Missouri Professor of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences Matthew E. Gompper, Ph.D., a carnivore expert who also serves as advisor for Mizzou Tigers for Tigers.

"MU has recognized the problematic decline in Tigers, and we're attempting to give something back to these great animals," said Professor Gompper. "This partnership with one of the most reputable zoo and conservation programs in the world will help us raise awareness of the challenges that tigers face across the world. We're looking forward to continuing our efforts to ensure the future persistence of tigers."

Mizzou Tigers for Tigers is the university's mascot conservation program and was founded in 1998 as the first established in the U.S. Student leaders at Mizzou recently approached the Zoo to find ways to raise awareness on behalf of tiger preservation in the wild by generating support for Missouri's own zoo tigers. Mizzou is also supporting the tiger reserves at Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Mo., and the Kansas City Zoo.

Both the number of tigers and the size of their wild habitats have declined 97 percent during the past century. Of the original nine subspecies of tigers, only six remain; current estimates show that between 3,000 and 8,000 wild tigers live in Asia, where they are seriously endangered due to habitat destruction, poaching and the use of tiger bones in traditional medicine practices.

Tigers are the largest cats in the world, and Amur tigers are the largest tiger subspecies. They stand about three feet tall at the shoulder. While not quite as tall as lions, Amur tigers are longer and usually weigh more than lions. Adult males can grow up to 11 feet long and weigh over 600 pounds; females are smaller -- up to nine feet long and about 370 pounds.

About Saint Louis Zoo
The Saint Louis Zoo has been named #1 zoo by Zagat Survey's U.S. Family Travel Guide in association with Parenting magazine. The Saint Louis Zoo is widely recognized for its innovative approaches to animal management, wildlife conservation, research and education. The Zoo attracts 3,000,000 visitors each year. www.stlzoo.org