Mike VI Caretaker Stories

The primary care for Mike VI, LSU's live tiger mascot, is provided by the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. David Baker, professor, is his veterinarian, and he is assigned two veterinary student caretakers every two years. Below are stories from a few of Mike's veterinary student caretakers.

 

Dr. Wendy Day (LSU SVM 2008)

One of the many blessings in my life was the opportunity to have a personal relationship with Mike V in his last year and the development of a new bond with Mike VI. The privilege of working with both of these wonderful creatures has been such an honor to me—a memory I will always cherish.


Dr. Adam Caro (LSU SVM 2010)

I consider myself very lucky to have been one of Mike’s caretakers. I had known about the position before I was accepted into the veterinary program at LSU and knew how difficult it was to attain. It was a very special time in my life, and I will always look back fondly on those two years. I have so many great memories of working with Mike. I think my favorite memory is from a time after I graduated. I visited him about a year after his new caretakers had taken over. He was sleeping in one of his usual corners of the enclosure and, as I approached, I made a chuffing sound as I typically did when greeting him in the afternoons. He woke up and ran across to greet me with his own chuffs. It was very heartwarming to see that he recognized me after all that time had passed.


Dr. Kelly Folse (LSU SVM 2010)

I cared for Mike VI when he was an adolescent tiger, and he was stubborn and hilariously mischievous. His routine in the wee hours of the morning before he would leave his nighthouse for the day was to stretch out, chuff in my general direction, and then take the longest, most foul-smelling bowel movement possible. He would then look back at me and happily chuff. It’s funny the things that I remember the most. My years with Mike are some of the best experiences of my life.


Dr. Randee Monceaux (LSU SVM 2012)

Although I have many wonderful memories working with Mike VI, my most treasured ones happened early in the morning when I first arrived to let him out of his nighthouse for the day. It was always very quiet on campus, and Mike was always very calm. As I walked into the nighthouse and turned the light on, Mike was usually fast asleep, lying in some strange position (like on his back with his feet in the air or completely twisted with his hind limbs on one side of his body and his front limbs on the other). He would open his eyes very slowly, look at me for a few moments, then softly chuff as if to say, “Just five more minutes, please.” After he woke up, he would come up to the bars of his cage, and we would spend a few quiet moments together. He would rub his face against the bars while I talked to him: “Good morning, Michael! Look at how handsome you are.” On occasion, as I drove my scooter up to the back of the nighthouse to let him out in the morning, I would hear him emitting his mighty roar. He was usually in a very playful mood when he was up before I arrived at the nighthouse. We always had a protective barrier between the caretakers and Mike, so when he was in one of those moods, I would let him out, and then go to the front of his enclosure to run back and forth as he chased and pounced at me on his side of the habitat. These mornings would end the same—with him at the chain-link fence rubbing his face on it as I whispered sweet nothings to him. I spent a lot of time with Mike and his fans, talking about his care and the plight of tigers in the wild, but my favorite memories of Mike are by far the times that Mike and I bonded alone.