An animal rights advocacy group is calling for LSU’s Mike VI to be the last live mascot at LSU.
Rebekah Allen of The Advocate has reported that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) wrote a letter to the university saying Mike the Tiger should not have been wheeled out in front of thousands of fans each game day, especially now in light of his rare cancer.
“People go to LSU football games because they want to see top college athletes playing the best football in the country, not because there’s a caged tiger sitting on the sidelines,” said the letter, signed by Lewis Crary of PETA and Cheyenne Fouts, an LSU animal advocate. “Orcas don’t belong in tanks, elephants don’t belong in the circus, and tigers do not belong in stadiums. In his sickly condition, Mike VI should not be wheeled out to games this coming season.”
Allen reported that the 11-year-old Mike VI decides whether he attends games: He attended one in 2015, and none in 2014. He has apparently been less willing than many of his predecessors.
Regardless, PETA feels Mike VI’s captivity has caused him undue stress.
“They live in perpetual states of confinement, discomfort, and stress and, at LSU games, are subjected to a constant barrage of disorienting lights and activity. Even under the best of care, a tiger’s most basic instincts are thwarted in captivity, and continuing to use live animals as mascots perpetuates the cruel notion that sensitive, complex wild animals should be caged and put on display like championship trophies.”
According to Mike the Tiger’s website, he is kept in a 15,000-foot enclosure that includes a waterfall, plant life and a stream.
It seems LSU has taken excellent care of its Tigers in the past: According to The Advocate, four of its last five tigers have lived to be 17 years old. On average, adult tigers live 10-15 years out in the wild and 16-20 years in captivity.
LSU also issued a response to PETA’s letter.
“Our primary concern right now is caring for Mike VI and making sure he gets the best possible medical treatment for his condition,” Ballard said. “This is not the time to discuss football season or a new tiger mascot. We are focused on Mike’s health and well-being at this time.”