With everything that went down over the course of the 2016 football season, the passing of Mike VI almost felt lost in the shuffle a bit. Still, the search for his successor is ongoing, despite what you may have heard through some ridiculous Facebook link. To update us on where things stand, LSU School of Veterinary Medicine Communications Manager Ginger Guttner was good enough to answer a few questions for us.
Where is LSU at in the process of the search for the next Mike the Tiger? Is there a timetable LSU is trying to stick to?
The plan is to have a tiger in August to join the incoming freshman class. Updates to the habitat began in April and are scheduled to be completed in August. We cannot move a new tiger into the habitat until those updates are complete.
The Tiger Habitat has been undergoing some renovations — what specifically will be added, and what benefits will that create for the Mike the Tiger program?
The work includes rockwork in the pool and stream, sealing the outdoor glazing walls, replacing signs, repairing a leak in the night house wall, replacing outdoor floodlights, painting and other maintenance and repairs. Dead trees will be removed, and the landscaping will be redone. A comfort rock will be added that is cooled in the summer months and heated in the winter months.
What are some things people don’t know about this search process? You can’t exactly just go buy a Tiger off Amazon.com.
Mikes IV, V and VI all came from rescue facilities or sanctuaries, and our plan is to do the same for Mike VII.
Is it difficult to balance this search against the pressure of animal rights groups to discontinue the program?
There are people and organizations that feel that LSU should not have a live tiger on campus; however, we stand by our care of our tigers and believe that by providing a good home for a tiger that needs one, we are helping to raise awareness about tiger conservation worldwide.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about the search for the next Mike the Tiger?
Responsible care for live exotic animals has evolved throughout the years, and LSU has evolved with it, as evidenced by the renovations to the tiger habitat in 1981 and the construction of an entirely new habitat in 2004-05. In that vein, LSU has decided that the tiger will not go into Tiger Stadium on home football game days. He will be out in his yard seven days a week. By having Mike in his yard on game days, it ensures that fans are able to see him throughout the day.