Mike VI (at right), the live tiger mascot used at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge football games, died last week, and some students and alumni -- and many outside the university -- are urging LSU to end the longstanding tradition of having a live tiger mascot.
A petition signed by more than 125,000 states: "While the university has done a wonderful job improving the quality of the tiger's enclosure, increasing its size and improving the variety of outdoor activities for the tiger, it is cruel to sentence another tiger to a life confined in a limited space only to be allowed outside for display at football games for entertainment. Beyond the confinement of one animal, buying tigers encourages the breeding of tiger cubs outside species survival management plans and feeds into the black market for tiger meat, furs, and tiger bone wine."
LSU released a statement indicating that it shares some of the concerns cited in the petition, but is still planning to replace Mike. "LSU is searching for a young tiger, currently living in a rescue facility, that could be donated to LSU. LSU will not engage in breeding tigers to obtain a mascot, nor will LSU purchase a tiger. Instead, LSU is seeking to adopt a tiger that is already living in captivity in the U.S. and give it a better home. LSU’s tiger habitat is 15,000 square feet, includes grass, trees and a pool, and is on par with tiger habitats at the nation’s top zoos. LSU’s mascot receives top-notch care through LSU’s School of Veterinary Medicine, and the mascot only attends football games when he chooses to enter his mobile trailer. Mike VI received an estimated 100,000 visitors each year at his habitat, and through those visits, LSU aims to inspire respect for tigers and awareness of their plight in the wild."
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