Mike VI has been living at LSU in his 15,000-square-foot habitat since 2007. Students, faculty, and alumni come from all over to visit their favorite furry friend. Recently, Mike was diagnosed with a spindle cell sarcoma, which is an inoperable tumor on the right side of his face.
However, Mike will undergo stereotactic radiotherapy treatment at the Mary Bird Perkins Center and has the potential to live one or two more years.
When the news of Mike’s tumor was released, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) reached out to LSU to ask that Mike VI be the last live mascot on campus. They claimed tigers are not meant to be caged, and everything that goes on during football season, from flashing lights to cheering crowds, is unnatural and goes against a tiger’s basic instincts.
LSU responded by pointing out that now is the time to focus on Mike’s health and well-being, not the upcoming plans for mascots or football seasons.
So, is having a live tiger on LSU’s campus really that bad?
On the one hand, LSU fans say Mike chooses whether he wants to go to games or not. They open his carrier, and if he doesn’t want to go, he doesn’t. He has only attended one game during the 2015 season and did not attend any games during the 2014 season. He is given incredible care and a top-notch space in which to live.
Also, tigers in captivity live to be about 14 to 18 years while tigers in the wild live to be about eight to 12 years.
On the other hand, animal advocates insist tigers, or any animal for that matter, should not be caged and displayed in this fashion, as it is uncomfortable and stressful for them.
As of now, LSU is not looking for another tiger and hoping Mike will live a few more years. However, if he does get worse, LSU would seek another tiger donation from a sanctuary, like it has in the past.
Other college mascots across the nation and fans here in Baton Rouge have been extremely supportive of Mike. Arkansa's Tusk IV sent Mike flowers with a note to get well soon. His habitat has been covered in flowers, stuffed animals, and presents from adoring fans hoping the best for their favorite tiger.