MASSILLON, Ohio--He's back! Obie the tiger cub is a beloved live mascot that has attended home football games at Massillon High School in Stark County.
But this year, due to new regulations, he was almost a no-show for the first time in decades.
It's safe to say high school football is huge in Massillon. "When I played football here, after practice and before practice I would come and I would play with Obie every day," said 2012 graduate, Jack Hurst.
"I think it's great because all my kids love it. I have six kids and three of them play football and all of them go to Massillon," said parent, Michelle Kreger.
But this year, Obie was almost sidelined.
New state regulations came close to preventing the football team and its booster club from having the tiger cub at the game.
"People around here love Obie and it means a lot to us and we have a community of over twenty some thousand people and it means a lot to them, so to us it's not a controversy. I just know we're really grateful that Obie is able to make an appearance," said school superintendent Rik Goodright.
The new regulations allow Massillon to continue its tradition, but they are required to file paperwork and agree to return the cub to an accredited facility and show the animal will be taken well care of for the rest of its life.
They also must ensure the animal does not come into direct contact with the public.
Fox 8 asked Goodright whether the tiger would be on the sidelines for every home game.
His response was "Obie is here tonight."
"I'm glad they got it back though 'cause that's what Massillon needs," said Massillon resident, Craig McCoy.
"It's a good tradition to have and the people out there that are trying to get rid of it, I just don't understand it. Obie's well taken care of," said Hurst.
The booster club also had to show state regulators that they had the required liability insurance as well.
The state of Ohio tightened its requirements for keeping and displaying exotic animals after 50 of them were released from a farm near Zanesville in 2011.