LSU’s Mike the Tiger loses battle with cancer

The LSU community mourns the death of their beloved mascot, Mike VI, who passed away Tuesday after an ongoing battle with spindle cell sarcoma: a rare form of cancer.

LSU’s live mascot has been a tradition carried out since 1936 when Mike I was brought to campus. Mike VI was born July 23, 2005, and was moved to LSU in 2007 where he lived out his days until the age of eleven.

Mike VI was euthanized by LSU’s Attending Veterinarian, David Baker, in his night house on Oct. 11 after his removal from public view, and transition into hospice care.

He was diagnosed with the disease in May of 2016 and underwent treatment that was, according to Baker, effective but not curative. However, the tumor in Mike VI’s head resumed growth and multiple cancerous nodules through out his body were discovered. His medical team decided that no further radiation treatment was beneficial.They expressed that Mike would roam his habitat freely until his quality of life declined to the point where humane euthanasia was necessary.

Mike VI has touched the hearts of countless members of the LSU family, including Camille Switzer, a fourth year student and frequent visitor of Mike’s habitat. Switzer explained that visiting Mike VI became one of her “most cherished experiences” in her academic career at LSU, and says that it was evident that Mike “loved every second of people visiting him.”

Like Switzer, many members of the community felt a strong connection with Mike VI, who embodied the spirit of LSU. Members of the LSU community have shown outpourings of affection and support by leaving letters and flowers at the site of the tiger’s enclosure. Support on social media is also apparent. LSU’s official website encourages people to, “share their memories, stories, and photos on social media.” Hashtags including #LSUforever, #MikeVI and #RIPMike have been used significantly.

A memorial will be hosted on Wednesday Oct.12 at 6:45 p.m. in front of Mike VI’s habitat where the Tiger Tenors, a LSU A Capella group, will honor Mike by singing the university’s Alma Mater.

Tiger fans and mascot-enthusiasts will be happy to know that a search for the next Mike is underway. LSU has disclosed that university has begun a search for a young male tiger. Like the past three generations of tigers, “LSU will seek to obtain a donated tiger from a rescue facility.” Although Tiger fans have to deal with the grief of losing yet another Mike, his legacy will live on through the tradition of providing a home for future mascots.

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