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Student, Inspired By ‘Tiger King,’ Determined To Begin Breeding Nittany Lions

Editor’s note: This story is part of Onward State’s April Fools series. It is satirical, meant for entertainment, and not to be taken literally. Any quotes were made up for the purpose of this post.

While people around the world have been stuck inside due to social distancing precautions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness has been an engaging and welcome distraction. However, one person claiming to be a Penn State student seems to be taking his interest in the docu-series more than a few steps further.

Known only as Joe Paternoxotic, the student told Onward State that before binging the popular Netflix series, he had no knowledge of the United States’ big cat conservation and collection scene. Now, though, with a six-hour case study under his belt, he’s convinced he has what it takes to begin breeding Nittany Lions.

“I, like everyone with a Netflix subscription, was captivated from start to finish while watching the show,” he said. “It made me think about how Nittany Lions are apparently extinct, and there’s no living representation of our university, so why not breed our own?

“This runs far deeper than ‘Tiger King.’ Watching that show may’ve made me realize what could be done. But for years, seeing schools like Texas and Georgia with actual animals on the sidelines of football games has convinced me that Penn State was missing something on gamedays.”

After finishing the series in one sitting, Paternoxotic said he spent about 15 minutes researching the logistics of raising big cats and maintaining zoos and sanctuaries for them before deciding that he knew pretty much everything he needed to know to make this project work. He estimates he can have a pride of Nittany Lions in as little as 18 months.

Paternoxotic, who seems to have taken his alias from the figure referenced in the series’ title, plans to use the final weeks of the semester to gather the necessary paperwork to create a registered student organization next school year or whenever in-person classes resume. He encourages new members to watch the series before joining — to make sure they know the exhilaration and peril they’re signing up for and putting their limbs at risk for.

When asked if he was worried about attracting a similar culture of drugs, violence, and animal cruelty that the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Zoo allegedly helped foster, Paternoxotic insisted that this time would be different.

In 2016, Pittsburgh-focused blog The Incline proposed that Penn State’s Nittany Lion and Pitt’s Panther were, really, the same mascot…not unlike the apparent similarities between the rival operation featured in Tiger King, led by Carole Baskin. Paternoxotic wasn’t aware of this research, but didn’t seem too fazed by it.

“If you want to say they’re closely related, sure,” he said. “But there is a level of adaptation and survival of the fittest that comes with living on the blustery, unforgiving terrain of Mount Nittany as opposed to a city. That’s the differentiator between our two schools and mascots, and we’re going to see it come to life once again soon enough.”

Although he seems committed to using Mount Nittany to let the cats prowl “like the good, ol’ days,” he’s also in the process of looking for a place on campus to house the Nittany Lions temporarily for show, especially on football weekends. Preliminary ideas include renting space in the Horse Barns, building a facility on the IM Fields, and taking over one of the non-renovated dorm halls in East. He’s also considering the courtyard on the side of the Pattee Library and has been in touch with Punxsutanwney Phil’s famed Inner Circle about the pragmatics of showcasing animals at a library.

Paternoxotic’s hope is to eventually create a zoo of Big Ten mascots to provide a needed year-round tourism boost to Happy Valley. He’s already made contact with similar groups at Michigan and Northwestern to gauge how wolverines and wildcats could coexist with a dominant mountain lion species.

While Paternoxotic seems committed to breeding his own Nittany Lions, he may need to settle to simply raising them for his Big Ten Zoo. According to Twitter user @PSU_FACTS, the creatures have already made their glorious return to an empty State College.

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About the Author

Anthony Colucci

Anthony Colucci is Onward State’s managing editor, a preferred walk-on honors student, and a senior majoring in psychology and public relations. Despite being from the make-believe land of Central Jersey, he was never a Rutgers fan. If you ever want to know how good Saquon Barkley's ball security is, ask Anthony what happened when he tried to force a fumble at the Mifflin Streak. If you want to hear the story or are bored and want to share prequel memes, follow @_anthonycolucci on Twitter or email him at [email protected] All other requests and complaints should be directed to Onward State media contact emeritus Steve Connelly.

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