Mike VI, Louisiana State University's beloved tiger mascot, has lost his struggle with cancer. The 11-year-old tiger was euthanized on Oct. 11 in his night house on the LSU campus.
For nine years, Mike VI has been prowling his habitat on the campus of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. One of only two live tiger mascots in the U.S., Mike had a 14,000-square-foot outdoor habitat, where students often stopped by to visit him between classes, as well as a night house where he spent his evenings. But after an unsuccessful struggle with untreatable cancer, Mike had transitioned to hospice care inside and was no longer able to be in his outdoor home.
Mike was diagnosed with spindle cell sarcoma in May 2016, when his veterinarian noticed swelling on the right side of his face. The cancer is rare and, at the time, his veterinary team was hopeful that with treatment the tiger could live 1 to 2 years.
In June, the tiger was taken to Mary Bird Perkins — Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center for stereotactic radiotherapy, which delivered a one-time precise, concentrated dose of radiation to Mike’s cancer. The tumor appeared to respond to the treatment, shrinking in size.
However, a new scan performed in early October showed that the tumor had resumed growing and the cancer had spread.
At the time, LSU's Attending Veterinarian David Baker, D.V.M., Ph.D., said that he believed that Mike could live another one to two months, but he would be humanely euthanized if he is in pain.
"We will not allow Mike to suffer," Baker said. "We will monitor him closely every day and will humanely euthanize him when the time comes. This is about treating Mike with dignity, compassion and respect."
LSU said no memorial service is planned, but fans are encouraged o share their memories, stories and photos on social media using #MikeVI.
The university has started a search for a young, male tiger. LSU hopes to find a tiger donated from a rescue facility like the last three mascots, Mikes IV, V and VI.
Here's a video the university prepared to honor the well-loved tiger: