The Truth About Obie
It was a tradition that was born many years back, a tradition born out of love and respect. As The Massillon Tiger program continued to develop into a positive force throughout the area, there were a few special people who began to investigate the possibility of using a live tiger as a mascot for the program.
Specifically, two men; Wilbur Arnold and Junie Studer. These special Tiger Fans began to research this possible project. As they continued to develop the project, being animal lovers themselves, Wilbur and Junie spent a serious amount of time determining the well being of such an animal. Wilbur and Junie actually flew to different zoos around the country to interview zoo keepers about what goes into the proper care of a tiger.
They wanted to create a mascot program that would be safe for all involved, especially the tiger. Once they felt comfortable, they brought in their first tiger. They had a team of men and their families who would care for and protect the tiger based on what Wilbur and Junie learned from zoo keepers. Over the years these teams acted as 'human' families to the tiger mascots. That's why Tiger Fans say that our Tiger is treated better then many of the fans. It seems to be true.
When the tigers became older and it was time to find new homes for them; Wilbur, Junie and the Tiger care teams worked to establish what they felt were safe homes for these exotic animals. They placed the Tigers at these locations based on information provided to them about the tigers well being and safety. Our Obie caregivers always wanted the best for every Tiger. It's a part of the Massillon tradition.
How the Obie Mascot is treated beyond its years at Massillon seems to be the issue at hand. To begin with; those affiliated with the care of the tiger would aggressively speak out against any possibility of abuse to one of their 'alumni'! Is there an advocacy plan in place for 'Obie Alumni' ? If not; then it is nothing more than an oversight that could be corrected. Perhaps an Obie Alumni committee should be formed to monitor the well being of Tiger graduates from our program. This committee can be comprised of compassionate animal lovers who have Obie's safety and well being at heart. Could this be a positive solution?
FAREWELL TO JUNIE!
We would like to close this story with a salute to one of our most beloved Obie lovers and Tiger Fans; Junie Studer. Junie passed away this week and will be sadly missed.
Junie and Wilbur will always be the spirits that watch over our cherished mascot; Obie The Tiger.