LSU

LSU finds tiger that could become Mike VII, school announces

LSU School of Veterinary Medicine's Dr. David Baker, who also serves as the primary caregiver for the university's live mascot Mike VI shares a moment with the big cat during a visit, Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 on LSU's campus in Baton Rouge. Mike VI died in October 11, 2016.
LSU School of Veterinary Medicine's Dr. David Baker, who also serves as the primary caregiver for the university's live mascot Mike VI shares a moment with the big cat during a visit, Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 on LSU's campus in Baton Rouge. Mike VI died in October 11, 2016. Advocate staff photo

LSU has identified a tiger at a rescue facility that could become Mike VII, the school announced Tuesday.

This juvenile, male rescue tiger is 9 months old and weighs about 160 pounds, according to a staff report from The Advocate website. The tiger has both Siberian and Bengal characteristics.

“LSU cannot state at this time exactly when the tiger will arrive or when he will be introduced to the LSU community, as these details depend upon construction completion, travel arrangements and the quarantine/acclimation period,” the release said.

The plan, the school said, is to have the tiger arrive mid-August. Once the tiger arrives, he will be kept in the night house for about a week for quarantine and acclimation; he will not be visible to the public during this time. If the quarantine/acclimation period goes well, the tiger will be released into his yard, and he’ll be declared Mike VII.

LSU will announce in advance the day and time that the tiger will be out in his yard for the first time.

“This young tiger is in need of a new home,” the school’s news release said. “He currently resides at a sanctuary formerly known as ‘Animal Adventures’ in Okeechobee, Fla.; this facility has undergone a change in ownership and is now ‘Wild at Heart Wildlife Center.’ In an effort to improve the facility and operation, and re-establish compliance with state and federal animal care regulations, the new owner has initiated several improvements, including reducing the number of resident animals, requiring many of its animals to be sent elsewhere. This tiger is being donated to LSU by this facility.”

Mikes IV, V and VI were all donated to LSU from rescue facilities.

LSU said in January that the university expects to have a new tiger by August, in time for football season.

Mike VII will not be paraded around LSU football games as cheerleaders ride atop his golden cage — a major departure as the university seeks to simultaneously continue and update the decades-old tradition of keeping a live mascot on campus.

Mike VI died in October after battling cancer. The next tiger will not attend home football games, will live in a newly renovated habitat and his home may have the title of tiger sanctuary.

LSU has had a live tiger mascot on campus since 1936. Some animal rights groups have called on the school to abandon the practice, but LSU President F. King Alexander said last week that the school is following its mandate by trying to help tigers and educate people who come to see the tiger about the plight of the species.

“A lot of people who say don’t have a tiger don’t say how they would help,” he said. “We have a bigger mission to help save tigers around the world.”

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