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Seventy-One Years of Tradition Continues with Mike VI

LSU got a new freshman on August 25 in the form of a live tiger.  On May 18, 2007, Mike V, LSU’s tiger mascot, passed away due to renal failure.  Immediately, the University announced that Mike V would be replaced. 

LSU received its first tiger, Mike I, in 1936, and has had a live tiger mascot ever since then.

Dr. David Baker, LSU’s attending veterinarian, began searching for a new tiger mascot after the death of Mike V.  In July, he found Roscoe, a two-year-old Bengal-Siberian mix tiger, at Great Cats of Indiana, a non-profit rescue facility located in Idaville, Indiana. Based on Baker’s careful review of Great Cats, LSU was advised by expert U.S. Department of Agriculture personnel that it was a reputable and legitimate rescue program. Great Cats does not intentionally breed tigers, and LSU’s assessment was that they abided by the “guiding principles” of a legitimate sanctuary.

Roscoe was born July 23, 2005. He weighed 323 pounds at the time of his arrival on campus but is expected to reach approximately 600-700 pounds at maturity.  At a press conference held at the School of Veterinary Medicine on August 27, Baker described Roscoe by saying, “Not only is he very handsome with markings unlike any tiger we have ever had, but his personality is remarkable.  He is extremely confident, interactive, inquisitive, and friendly toward people.”

Roscoe began his one-week quarantine/acclimation period so that he could be observed by LSU veterinarians to ensure he was healthy and a good fit for LSU.  The quarantine took place in the night house.  Roscoe was let into the outside portion of his enclosure on September 1.  He was officially welcomed into the LSU family on September 14 at a ceremony held outside of the tiger habitat. 

Roscoe made his Tiger Stadium debut as Mike VI on October 6 for the Florida vs. LSU football game. He entered his tiger trailer approximately two hours before game time and led the LSU Tiger Marching Band into Tiger Stadium.  Per tradition, Mike’s trailer was parked just outside the visitor’s entrance so that the Florida football players had to run by him to get onto the field.  With the LSU cheerleaders atop the trailer, Mike circled the field to the cheers of all of the LSU fans.  He returned to his habitat just before kickoff.

Except in cases of inclement weather, Mike attends all LSU home football games.  As with Mike V, the live tiger mascot will never be forced to load into his travel trailer for games.  According to Baker, Mike V was always eager to load into his trailer and seemed to enjoy his visits to Tiger Stadium. Mike VI seemed to enjoy his visit to Tiger Stadium as well.

On home football game days, Mike is not let into the outside portion of his enclosure until after his visit to Tiger Stadium.  He remains in his night house before the game to ensure that he can be loaded into his travel trailer and that his caretakers can check on him before the game.

Mike is an important part of the LSU family, and his care is provided by the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine.  Besides Baker, there are numerous other specialists at the veterinary school available to assist with the specialized healthcare needs of Mike.  Mike’s daily care is handled by two veterinary students.  They go to the habitat each morning, and, after checking on Mike, walk the outside portion of the enclosure to ensure that it is ready for Mike to come out – for example, picking up any trash that might have blown in overnight and checking the fences.  Mike is then let out for the day, where he is visited by LSU fans and visitors to the campus.

Mike is let back into his night house each evening, where he is fed a meal of 15-20 pounds of a balanced, commercially prepared diet containing meat, fish, soy, minerals, vitamins, and vegetables specially formulated for large cats. Other days he is fed a thawed pig carcass.  He is also occasionally given a frozen ox tail as a treat.

Two of LSU’s Tiger mascots, Mike I and Mike III, lived 19 years. Mike IV lived 20 years, 9 months, and 18 days, and Mike V lived 17 years.  The average lifespan for a tiger in the wild is about 8-10 years.  A tiger in captivity, like Mike VI, can live 14-18 years.

At the August 27 press conference, Baker was asked to compare Mikes V and VI.  He replied, “Mike V was a mature adult.  Mike V was very friendly, had an excellent personality, was a real pleasure to work with, but he was a mature tiger.  I was contrasting the two in my mind this morning, and Mike V was like the sage, mature adult, whereas this one is all vigor and enthusiasm and affection.  I expect that this one will grow into a really excellent mascot.”

Ginger Guttner | LSU Office of Public Affairs
Fall 2007

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