Do you love tigers and happy endings and hate animal enclosures? Then read something else, because this story isn’t for you.
Mike VI, LSU’s live tiger mascot is dead, the school announced Tuesday. He was the sixth (technically seventh) iteration of LSU’s live mascot that is occasionally brought to Tiger Stadium for games. When he came out for home games, the Bengali-Siberian mix was kept in a metal cage surrounded by another metal cage in order to make LSU fans happy.
The death of a creature like this is distressing; it becomes maddening when it’s clear the animal’s life amounted to little more than being a prop for college football fans. Hell, if this was 50 years ago, Mike VI would’ve been chucked out over night and we’d have never known the difference. According to the Mike The Tiger website, Mike VI was the seventh iteration of the live mascot, but Mike II died after a couple months, so the university administration used the old goldfish routine on the gullible students and media and just bought a new tiger and named it Mike II.
Mike VI was the only live tiger mascot in the nation, and when he wasn’t in the cage, he lived in a 15,000 square foot habitat, which, compared to the majority of your shitty small-town big cat exhibits and the old 2,000 square foot exhibit LSU used to keep its tigers in, was the best thing about his life. Now, Mike VI is dead, his body ravaged by an incurable cancer; on Oct. 5, doctors predicted the animal had 1-2 months to live. He made it six days.
The news that Mike VI developed cancer throughout his body has been out since May—the crack team at The Baton Rogue Advocate has covered every development along the way. The latest came Monday when it was reported that due to discomfort, Mike VI would be moved to hospice care and no longer be allowed to roam about on display for fans and tiger-enclosure enthusiasts. This update was far less bleak than previous ones—first, it was revealed Mike had cancer, then, he developed spindle cell sarcoma around his right eye, leading to the loss of fur and discoloration of the skin following radiation treatment.
Then, through a efficiently distressful graphic, The Advocate revealed just how fucked Mike VI was:
The real heart-stabber comes not from Louisiana, but from Indiana, where Mike VI, formerly known as Roscoe, grew up. Steve Cotner, an employee at Great Cats of Indiana, spoke to The Advocate about the big cat’s younger days, detailing how when Roscoe was just a few months old, he would take him home and watch the cat’s favorite show, Orange County Choppers. Cotner was not an expert veterinarian like the LSU folks who came along and bought his beloved tiger, but he knew enough to make the LSU officials promise to that they would not force Mike VI into the cage—if he was going to go to a game, he had to enter the cell on his own volition.
Mike attended one game between the 2014 and 2015 seasons, because tigers are not meant to serve as mascots for a football game and Mike VI, despite his ailments, knew his ass didn’t want to continually waste four hours looking through bars to watch an LSU offense shit all over itself despite having 10 five-stars and an inept quarterback. Mike VI was smart.