Mike's Caretakers

On October 21, 1936, Mike I arrived on the LSU campus. For 80 years, LSU has had the privilege of having a live tiger mascot on its campus, and Mike VI, LSU’s current live mascot, is the only live tiger living on a college campus in the United States. He is a symbol of the pride, strength and majesty that is LSU. Caring for Mike is a huge responsibility, and 60 students and three veterinarians have provided care for our live mascot since 1936.

From 1936 to 1976, care for the tiger was provided by the Athletic Department. In 1976, the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine began providing the tiger’s care. You can learn about all of the Mikes in Mike the Tiger: The Roar of LSU, the book written by Mike’s current veterinarian, Dr. David Baker.

Caretakers for Mike VI on What Mike Means to Them

Photo: Mike's Caretakers

As part of LSU’s homecoming festivities in 2013, past and present student caretakers (representing five of the six Mikes) were honored on the field in Tiger Stadium between the first and second quarters of the Furman vs. LSU football game on October 26. (View full size image.)

Attending the recognition on the field were (from left) Dr. Daniel Cutler (LSU SVM 2014), Mike VI caretaker (2012-2014); Dr. Macy Trosclair (LSU SVM 2014), Mike VI caretaker (2012-2014); Dr. Randee Monceaux (LSU SVM 2012), Mike VI caretaker (2010-12); Dr. Rollie Norris (LSU SVM 1992), Mike V caretaker (1990-92); Dr. Adam Caro (LSU SVM 2010), Mike VI caretaker (2008-10); Dr. Kelly Folse (LSU SVM 2010), Mike VI caretaker (2008- 10); Dr. Wendy Day (LSU SVM 2008), Mike V and Mike VI caretaker (2006-08); Philip Amon, Mike III caretaker (1972); Dr. Leeth Harper (LSU SVM 2000), Mike V caretaker (1998-2000); Dr. David Webre (LSU SVM 1998), Mike V caretaker (1996-98); Dr. John Allender (LSU SVM 1984), Mike IV caretaker (1983-84); Dr. W. Byron Garrity, Jr. (LSU SVM 1982), Mike IV caretaker (1980-82); Dr. John DeVun (LSU SVM 1986), Mike IV caretaker (1985-86); Dr. Donald J. Harris, Jr. (LSU SVM 1980), Mike IV caretaker (1978-80); Paul Marks, Jr. (LSU 1965), Mike III caretaker (1963-65); Robert Lank Jr. (LSU 1970), Mike III caretaker (1968-72) and son of LSU SVM founding faculty member, Dr. Robert Lank, Sr.; Dr. Jeffrey Perret (LSU SVM 1990), Mike IV caretaker (1989-90); Dr. James “Sonny” Corley (LSU SVM 1980), Mike IV caretaker (1976-80); and Dr. David Baker, LSU’s attending veterinarian and LSU SVM professor of laboratory animal medicine. Sidney Miller (LSU 1958), Mike II caretaker from 1957-58, was in attendance at the game but was not pictured on the field.

Wendy Day, DVM (LSU SVM 2008):
Caretaker from 2006-08 “One of the many blessings in my life is working with animals. Having had the chance to care for Mike V in his last year and welcoming Mike VI to LSU his first year was amazing. Nothing can replace the bond I developed with either Mike, especially the chance to be Mike VI’s ‘LSU girlfriend’. I still remember his reaction and how I could never sneak up on him. When I would drive up, he knew the sound of my car engine, the sound of my door shutting, the jingle of my keys and the smell of my perfume. He still remembers me when I go by and visit today. He will always have a piece of my heart.” Dr. Day works at White Oak Animal Hospital and ER in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Wesley Lee, DVM (LSU SVM 2008):
Caretaker from 2006-08 “Word of Mike VI’s cancer hit like a sucker punch to the gut. Mike VI came along as such a bright spot in a dark time after we lost Mike V. His youth and enthusiasm were such contrasts to the wisdom and composure of the veteran old Mike V. There is something special in the experience of having any animal recognize you as an individual and truly be excited to see you...and when that animal is Mike the Tiger, ‘special’ falls woefully short as an adequate description. It was such a privilege to share part of my days with these two amazing tigers. It has been wonderful to see Mike VI grow and mature into the beautiful tiger that he is today. Sending a heartfelt chuff your way, old buddy. “ Dr. Lee works at Red River Equine Hospital in Benton, La.

Adam Caro, DVM (LSU SVM 2010):
Caretaker from 2008-10 “I was lucky enough to be a caretaker for Mike VI for two years during my veterinary training. It was an incredible experience that I will always look back on fondly. The news of Mike’s diagnosis was a sad day for me, but I am very happy that it was caught in time. He has an excellent and diverse team of medical professionals at his aide.” Dr. Caro is assistant director of IACUC management at the University of Pennsylvania.

Daniel Cutler, DVM (LSU SVM 2014):
Caretaker from 2012-14 “To me, the best part of being Mike VI’s caretaker wasn’t getting to go to football games or people being impressed by your job. The best part was getting to know Mike on a personal level where I knew him and he knew me. Everyone knows and loves him as the Heart of LSU. I got to know him as a stubborn, but goofy cat.” Dr. Cutler is a zoological nedicine resident at the University of Geoargia.

Macy Trosclair, DVM (LSU SVM 2014):
Caretaker from 2012-14 “There are so many moments throughout out my two years as caretaker that I will cherish for the rest of my life. One in particular stands out. During my fourth year of veterinary school, I was working very long days while on the internal medicine rotation. I would get up at 4:30 a.m. each morning to get Mike VI ready for the day before heading into the clinic and then see him again in the evening to bring him into his 2016 La Veterinaire 21 nighthouse, usually having to return to the clinic afterwards to finish up paperwork. During the last days of that rotation, one of my longterm patients was doing poorly and had to be euthanized. It was my first time losing a patient that I had worked so closely with, and at that stage in my career, I was still learning how to deal with the weight of that emotionally. I went to the nighthouse to feed Mike that evening, emotionally and physically drained from the events of the day, and sat on the floor waiting for Mike to come inside. He snuck up behind me, rubbed his head against the bars, chuffed loudly in my ear, and licked my hand as if to say, ‘I know this is hard, but it will get better. You got this.’ He sat on the floor at my side for almost 30 minutes, completely ignoring his dinner until I was ready to get up and move on with my night. It was a simple gesture; one most pet owners might overlook if their dog or cat had done the same, but it was what I needed in that moment, and I’ll never forget it. Being one of Mike’s caretaker’s was a dream come true for me. It’s the reason why I chose to attend LSU for veterinary school and part of the reason why I wanted to become a veterinarian in the first place. As a child, my family would attend most home football and baseball games, and no trip was complete without a visit to Mike’s enclosure. He has always been the anchor of that campus, keeping a firm tether on the rich traditions and unwavering spirit of LSU. Even now, Mike represents the best of what it means to be an LSU alumnus. He’s empathetic but strong, playful but fierce, and intensely loyal. He is the heart and soul of this university, and I am immensely grateful to have been a part of his life.” Dr. Trosclair just finished an zoological medicine internship at North Carolina State University and is currently looking for jobs in the zoo/aquarium field.

Lindsey Clemones, DVM (LSU SVM 2016):
Caretaker from 2014-16 “Caring for Mike VI will always be the highlight of my veterinary career. He is so much more than just a tiger or just a mascot. He is the heart and soul of LSU and an important part of campus history. I was so lucky to be a part of that.” Dr. Clemones currently works at Riverlands Animal Hospital in LaPlace, La.

Trevor Davis, DVM (LSU SVM 2016):
Caretaker from 2014-16 “My favorite memory of Mike VI was when we returned Mike to the habitat after his radiation therapy planning. He was still sleepy from the anesthesia and laying on his bed. I walked up to the door and crouched down to his level and said in a soft voice, “Hey buddy.” And he gave me the cutest, sleepiest chuff, and that is when I knew he was all right. “ Dr. Davis is working at Randolph County Veterinary Clinic, a mixed animal practice doing general medicine and surgery on dogs, cats, horses and food animals; the practice is owned by his father, Michael Davis, DVM (LSU SVM 1981).

Caitlin Bell (LSU SVM Class of 2018):
Caretaker from 2016-18 “I knew this position was a once-in-a-lifetime chance I would never have again. I also knew what an honor it would be to care for a college mascot. One of my favorite things about working with Mike VI is that Mike knows me! I love the special bond I have with Mike! There is nothing like being up close and personal with such a large and exotic animal daily. Mike is not only the face of LSU; he is the spirit behind the fans and the students of LSU. Mike is a special piece of LSU’s history.” Following graduation, Caitlin hopes to practice mixed animal medicine in northeast Louisiana.

Christian Folk (LSU SVM Class of 2018):
Caretaker from 2016-18 “Living in Baton Rouge for most of my life, visiting Mike V was a staple of my childhood. My mom used to bring my older sister and me to visit him pretty frequently, so I guess the desire to be his caretaker began there. I didn’t realize until right before I started veterinary school that our class would be offered the position, but once I found out I’ve wanted the position ever since. Within the first week of our very first semester, Caitlin and I talked about wanting the position and decided to apply as a team that day. My favorite thing about getting to know Mike VI is his personality. In reality, he’s a pretty big goof ball. He doesn’t like being woken up early in the morning. He will play possum if he wants you to ‘think’ he’s asleep and just be left alone. Taking care of him is just like getting to know any new animal. It’s an amazing experience to watch him slowly over time trust you and respond to you. Seeing 20 to 30 people around him at the habitat and he’s not paying anyone any individual attention, then you come by and say, ‘Hey, buddy,’ and he instantly pops his head up and stares right at you. It’s an incredible feeling. Mike is the face of LSU, but even more recently with his cancer diagnosis, I think he’s also a new face for hope. Watching him recover from his radiation therapy and go about his days like nothing is wrong has meant a lot to me and several others. The love and support that was shown to Mike VI after his diagnosis was made public was overwhelming in the best way. He means a great to deal to many people near and far. Being able to care for such a loved and admired animal makes this job extremely rewarding.” Following graduation, Christian plans to pursue a small animal surgical residency and become a board-certified surgeon.