LSU’s Beloved Mascot Mike the Tiger Passes Away
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Despite LSU’s 45 to 10 win over Southern Miss on Saturday, there was a sense of emptiness and a dark cloud hovering over Tiger stadium as many continued to morn the loss of their beloved mascot Mike the Tiger.
Mike VI was a Bengali-Siberian hybrid who many considered to be the living embodiment of the team’s spirit died on Tuesday at the age of 11.
On May 23, 2016, LSU issued a press release stating that MikeVI had been diagnosed with a spindle cell sarcoma, a type of cancer. LSU announced on September 6 that despite treatment, the tiger’s cancer was terminal, and that he would be expected to live at most two years. Mike the Tiger would remain in his on-campus habitat, and would no longer attend games. On October 5, 2016 it was announced that Mike VI’s cancer had returned and spread to his head. Vets at the LSU Veterinarian School announced that he had one to two months to live. Six days later, Mike VI was euthanized by his attending veterinarian David Baker.
Over the past few months,prior to his death, Mike the Tiger encountered a lot of firsts.
He was already one of only two live tigers mascots for a university team in the nation.
And in May, the famous feline was diagnosed with a spindle cell sarcoma in his face after caretakers noticed his eye was bulging.
It was thought to be the first such diagnosis of the rare, incurable cancer in a tiger.
Then Mike became the first such tiger to receive treatment for the cancer in an attempt to extend his life.
LSU Vet school officials, in conjunction with the Mary Bird Perkins-Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center, treated Mike in June with stereotactic radiotherapy, something that is often used for humans but had never been used on a tiger. Stereotactic radio therapy uses a beam of X-rays pinpointing the tumor while providing minimal damage to surrounding cells.
After Mike V’s death, PETA contacted the university and urged it not to replace him with a new tiger.
However, LSU chancellor Sean O’Keefe rejected PETA’s request by stating that LSU would acquire a new tiger. O’Keefe further defended LSU’s decision by noting that four of the previous five Mikes lived to be at least 17 years, nearly twice the normal 8–10 year lifespan of tigers in the wild. O’Keefe further explained that tigers were currently a critically endangered species in the wild, and any attempt to preserve them as a species would require some level of raising them in captivity, such as at LSU’s veterinary school.
LSU did not wish to buy a tiger but instead sought for one to be donated to the school. On July 27, 2007, WBRZ ABC News 2 announced that LSU had located a tiger at Great Cats of (Idaville) Indiana, an Indiana-based large cat and carnivore rescue facility.
“Roscoe” aka Mike VI aka Mike the Tiger, arrived in Baton Rouge on Saturday, August 25, 2007, after a plane ride from Indiana and was kept quarantined in the “night house” in the LSU habitat, away from the public. On August 31, 2007, LSU officials decided that the tiger was adjusting well and allowed him into the public habitat during morning outings. He was returned to the night house each evening. On his first outing on September 1, 2007, LSU staff invited members of the media and the public to view and take photographs of the tiger.
On September 8, 2007, LSU staff acknowledged that “He’s Mike VI” in a press release. A ceremony dedicating the tiger as officially “Mike VI” took place on September 14, 2007, Mike VI was to make his Death Valley debut at the September 22 game against the University of South Carolina, but LSU Veterinarian David Baker felt that a day game would be rough for the new tiger, delaying his anticipated debut until the October 6, 2007 night game against the University of Florida.
In Mike VI’s first year as the LSU tiger, the LSU football team won the BCS National Championship for the 2007 college football season.