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Enter The Tiger

by Donovan Tennimon
Aug 27, 2013 5:34 PM EDT



Mike the Tiger, more specifically Mike VI, lives in a palatial 15,000 square foot habitat across the street from Tiger Stadium.

It’s an impressive environment for the Siberian and Bengal mix who weighs about 500 pounds. Some of the highlights from Mike’s enclosure include a waterfall and stream emanating from a rocky formation near the back of the habitat as well as a large, live oak tree. In addition, there is an Italianate tower that helps Mike’s home blend in with the rest of the architecture on campus.

As Mike VI name implies, he is the latest in a long line of big cats to represent LSU athletics. The first Mike arrived in Baton Rouge on October 21, 1936. That young tiger from the Little Rock Zoo served as the live mascot for 20 years, the longest tenure of any of LSU’s tigers. Mike VI has been on campus and inspiring student-athletes since 2007.

Mike gets an escorted ride into Tiger Stadium by the LSU cheerleading squad. Actually, the cheerleaders ride on top of his cage as he enters Death Valley. Handlers place Mike next to the opponent’s locker room and opposing players must walk past him. Not many other teams can intimidate their opponents in such a fashion.

LSU also has a costumed tiger mascot whose name happens to be Mike. This enables fans to take a picture with Mike without losing life or limb. The costumed version of Mike also makes numerous appearances throughout the community at charitable events and school functions. The costumed Mike arrived on campus after the live mascot and began appearing at home games in the 1950s.

How did LSU get the Tigers nickname anyway? LSU posted a 6-0 record during the 1896 season the first time the school adopted the Tigers nickname. At that time, most schools used a nickname depicting an intimidating animal. Also, the state of Louisiana was associated with Tigers due to a volunteer company nicknamed the Tiger Rifles during the Civil War. The first president of LSU after the Civil War was Major David French Boyd, who served the Louisiana Troops during the war. Surely, he had a strong influence on LSU adopting the Tigers nickname.