Sep 16, 2010 10:57 AM by Posted by Nichole Larkey
Southern University is officially giving up, for now, on efforts to acquire a new live jaguar mascot Lacumba and to build a larger animal habitat.
A successful, student-led initiative will reallocate fees collected for Lacumba into student recreation projects and other activities, such as new basketball and volleyball courts on campus.
Southern Student Government Association President Demetrius Sumner said student recreation and campus beautification efforts mean more to students right now than building a new home for a jaguar.
"It's definitely not one of the largest priorities in these budget-cutting times," Sumner said of Lacumba.
The last jaguar, Lacumba II, died in December 2004 and the university soon afterwards announced tentative plans to raise close to $1 million to build a larger animal habitat before a new animal was brought to campus. But Southern has never made the fundraising a top priority. The current, vacant 418-square-foot jaguar cage is one of the smallest structures on campus.
The Lacumba fee has accumulated a pool of about $318,000 since the last animal's death, Sumner said.
There also remains the debate of whether Southern should ever house a live jaguar on campus again.
Southern Chancellor Kofi Lomotey said he opposes acquiring a new Lacumba.
"I don't think it's a very good idea to hold animals in captivity," Lomotey said. "I've never supported that idea."
Lomotey said he was "quietly" supportive of the SGA's effort, which resulted in a student vote approved on a four-to-one margin to transfer the funds.
Southern Board of Supervisors Chairman Tony Clayton said he only sees the Lacumba fundraising being put on hold temporarily.
"During these economic times, and for reasons the kids are asking for it, I support it,"Clayton said of the student effort.
Clayton said Lacumba fundraising efforts will become a priority when the economy improves.