National Tigers for Tigers coalition gathers at Clemson University
This past weekend, I participated in the National Tigers for Tigers (T4T) Summit at Clemson University in South Carolina. I came away inspired by a new set of proactive individuals who are strong advocates for big cats, both in the wild and in captivity.
T4T is the brainchild of a former Clemson grad who wanted to save endangered tigers by collaborating with students at colleges across the nation. Now nearly 60 colleges are part of T4T.
What was their collective inspiration?
Each of the schools has proudly adopted the tiger as its mascot.
Clemson President James F. Barker summarized it best: “Our institutions adopted the tiger as our symbol because of its fierce strength, beauty and dignity. We can hardly sit by as our mascot disappears.”
At the summit, I gave a presentation on the U.S. captive big cats crisis and the need to reform, and was met with great enthusiasm about the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act. Both students and faculty proceeded to work on targeted plans to raise awareness and support for the bill.
I also learned from several of the other presenters, including the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s (IFAW) long-time ally and coalition partner, Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue.
While there, a few of the students and I met with the district office of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who, by the way, grew up just a mile or so away from Clemson. Although I usually lobby on the Hill, it is always a great feeling to visit district offices with direct constituents.
Senator Graham’s support would be impactful, considering the fact that South Carolina is one of the 6 states without any restrictions on keeping big cats in private hands.
In the next couple of weeks, the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act will officially be reintroduced by Congress.
I can’t wait to work with you and with the T4T Coalition to build support for this important initiative!
P.S.: Please visit our new webpage, www.ifaw.org/bigcatadvocates, and share with your friends!