From the archives: ‘This striped cat’s fur, growl really for real’

The junior class got together and had a live tiger attend Homecoming activities in 1966, the first year intercollegiate sports began at Olivet. This is the original story that ran in the October edition of The GlimmerGlass in 1966. 

The tiger attended the first intercollegiate basketball game that was played against Bethany Nazarene College (now Southern Nazarene University). Information obtained from University Archives.

Last year, a great mind, now faded into anonymity, conceived the sensational idea of importing a live tiger for the initiation of Olivet’s first basketball game of her newly, officially condoned, intercollegiate season, which also happened to coincide with Homecoming.

Since the great mind chose, or rather faded, into anonymity, Penny Wilson was left, or rather appointed, to the task of contacting various zoos. All through the summer she wrote at least a dozen zoos throughout Chicagoland. Among the replies were: “Crazy idea!” “Forget it!” and most frequently, “We can’t help you, but good luck!” However, probably the most noteworthy of the replies came in the form of “It’s bad to have a tiger with a live audience.” (More apropos might be  a live tiger with a dead audience.)

Finally Penny received three favorable replies. These were given to Natalie Whitis so she could get more information on prices. Price quotes ran as high as $900 a day! Sequentially, under the wise council of the executive council of the junior class, Natalie notified the Animal Kingdom in Chicago that they were to send a tiger to Olivet College this Saturday.

Once the news was out about the live tiger coming to Olivet, the rumors flew fast and furious. One such rumor said something to effect that the tiger was an eight-week-old cub, he cost the junior class $600 and he’d probably sleep all day anyway. Of course junior class president, Robert Lee Sloan, dispelled the rumor by stating profoundly, “The tiger is from India and it is large.”

In October Bob and Penny traveled to Chicago to make the final arrangements. The tiger will arrive Saturday morning in time to appear in the parade and he’ll be on display in the Quadrangle all day Saturday.


— Marcia Morgan, As Told by Bob Sloan

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