TOM III is a project of the Highland Hundred, as all TOM's have been for over 40 years. The state and Federal licenses that grant authority to possess TOM III legally are held personally in the names of Tiger Guard members. TOM III is NOT owned by The University of Memphis.
TOM III's financial needs are covered by a combination of support from the Highland Hundred General Fund and from other private sources. Private giving above and beyond normal Highland Hundred membership fees is an integral part of the process, allowing the HH general fund to focus its support on the Tiger Football Program.
No University funds are utilized in TOM III's care.
TOM III was a gift to the Tiger Guard from the Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue and Educational Center in Rock Springs, Wisconsin. This licensed, non-profit sanctuary is home to about 30 large cats, mostly Tigers, including TOM III's parents Thor and Vixie who are long-time companions.
Since the goal of any reputable sanctuary is to limit the population of new Tigers in captivity, Vixie was on birth control. Unfortunately, the birth control failed, and she became pregnant with the litter of cubs that would include TOM III and his two brothers. They were born on August 31, 2008.
Jeff Kozlowski, founder of Wisconsin Big Cats, saw the news of TOM II's death on ESPN. Knowing that the Tiger Guard would provide a good home for one of his new cubs, Jeff contacted us to offer one of the young Tigers to serve as TOM III. We flew to Wisconsin to meet TOM III and bring him home on October 23, 2008.
You can visit Wisconsin Big Cats at www.wisconsinbigcats.org.
TOM III's brothers continue to live at Wisconsin Big Cats. One of them, a White Tiger, has been sponsored by the Tiger Guard and is named 'MEMPHIS'.
TOM III weighs about 450 pounds and is fully grown.
TOM III eats a specially prepared beef diet that includes the necessary amounts of calcium, taurine, and other supplements he needs to be healthy and strong. The amount of his daily feeding is based upon his body weight and his diet is closely monitored by our veterinary team to ensure proper nutrition.
No. TOM III will retain his claws. Any surgery can be stressful for a Tiger, and we have made the decision not to subject TOM III to that experience.
No. Since TOM III will never be socialized with a female Tiger, this is not an issue. TOM II was not neutered, either.
A male Tiger in captivity will generally live for 16-20 years. This is in contrast to the wild, where a male Tiger often lives only 10-12 years.
Yes, TOM III is very affectionate with people he knows and trusts. But Tigers ARE NOT PETS, and those who care for TOM III must always be mindful of the fact that he is a powerful animal capable of causing injury.
Tigers are very vocal animals, making a wide variety of sounds ranging from affection to anger. TOM III makes a rolling sound in his throat called "chuffing" which is a friendly sound and sign of affection that is unique to Tigers. He also grunts, hums, squeaks, snarls, and roars across a wide tone and volume spectrum depending on how the mood moves him. He is not afraid to tell you how he feels.
TOM III travels in a climate-controlled, soundproof trailer, always under police escort. TOM III's trailer was restored and its systems re-engineered in 2007 at a cost of more than $40,000. The 3,500 pound, steel-and-tempered-glass trailer can support more than twice its own weight and has three redundant electrical systems to support the environmental controls that keep TOM III comfortable.
TOM III enters his trailer of his own free will, something he would not do if it was an unpleasant experience for him. We have no mechanism to make him do anything he does not want to do. Hopefully there will never be a day where TOM III decides he doesn't want to travel to see his fans, but if that day comes, he will stay at home.
TOM III lives is the same facility occupied by TOM II for the final four years of his life. This custom-designed Tiger House, valued at more than $700,000, is among the finest private facilities in the nation. Constructed with a concrete and steel perimeter, it has two pools fed by a dedicated water well (Tigers love water), a climate-controlled indoor facility including a veterinary den, and multiple redundant security features designed to keep TOM III safe. The facility is inspected regularly by state and Federal regulators.
TOM III's Tiger House is a private facility not open to the public. In addition to protecting the privacy of the land owner, this is also necessary for TOM III's security.
TOM III serves as the mascot for The University of Memphis, and we do not "put him to work" promoting other interests. There is also a tremendous amount of time, logistical planning, and expense involved with each trip that TOM makes.
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