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A bunch of colleges with tiger mascots are teaming up to save actual tigers

It’s a tiger party for a good cause.

A football Tiger (left) and an actual tiger (right).
USA Today Sports, Getty Images

Tigers are popular mascots. Just in major college football, five teams — or 3.8 percent of all the programs — are named the Tigers. Four of those schools are now coming together to try to do something for actual tigers.

Clemson, Auburn, Missouri, and LSU are combining to “throw the weight of multiple academic disciplines behind efforts to save wild tiger populations worldwide,” they announced on Wednesday.The new group will have a name: the U.S. Tiger University Consortium. (Memphis is the only FBS Tigers school not included in this group.)

“Students, faculty and alumni chant ‘Go Tigers’ on a daily basis, but not many know the truth about the animal we hold so dear,” Brett Wright, the dean of Clemson’s College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences, says in the announcement.

“These universities share the tiger mascot and benefit from that majestic symbol of strength, dignity and beauty, so they share a moral responsibility to apply all of our resources to save the animal that inspires that symbol.”

The schools plan to focus on applying technology to monitor wild tiger populations. They aim to “create the next generation of conservation leaders through university-supported academic scholarships and assistantships,” which sounds great.

Tigers are stunning animals, but their numbers are not strong.

The announcement of the schools’ collaboration cites the Global Tiger Forum, which estimates that fewer than 4,000 tigers are living in the wild right now. “Major issues include deterioration of the tigers’ natural habitats and poaching,” Clemson’s announcement says.

Clemson says its university president, James P. Clements, got this tiger party started. Clements is on the Global Tiger Initiative Council, an advocacy group that wants to “save the remaining populations of wild tigers with a goal of doubling tiger numbers in the wild by 2022,” the university says.

One of the schools in the new consortium, LSU, for years maintained a live tiger mascot that it trotted around its football stadium during games. The most recent tiger mascot, Mike VI, died last season, and an entire community felt the loss. The next Mike the Tiger won’t enter the stadium on game days.

General View Of Harbin Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images