LSU's Mike the Tiger starting retirement
BATON ROUGE, La. -- From now on, LSU's mascot tiger won't roar unless he just feels like it.
It's the "first stage of retirement" for Mike the Tiger, said David Baker, Mike's veterinarian. That means the student mascot will no longer try to get him to roar during football games at Tiger Stadium.
Baker said he noticed that Mike "didn't seem to be into it anymore" during last season. "It was more bothersome to him."
Mike, the fifth of that name and LSU's mascot since Mike IV was retired to the Greater Baton Rouge Zoo at age 15, has lost weight and muscle over the past 18 months but is still in reasonably good shape for an elderly tiger, and still has a "good attitude."
Mike V was a 7-pound, 4-month-old cub when he came to LSU in February 1990. He's currently the third oldest of the five mascots, none of which has lived past age 19. The oldest known tigers have been about 26, according to the United Nations Environment Program's World Conservation Monitoring Center.
The death of Mike III in 1976 was so hard on students and faculty that the vet at the time, W. Sheldon Bivin, "said he would never allow another tiger to die on campus," Baker said.
The school's tigers now retire in three stages:
• He no longer participates in pregame events such as the roar before the game.
• He stops attending the games altogether.
• He retires to another location.
When the time comes, the next Mike needs to be a healthy, playful cub which is not fearful and is interested in his surroundings.
A student and visitor had similar reactions to Mike's new status.
"I think it's good for Mike that he isn't being overworked," said Jake Berman, a kinesiology major.
Susan Brown, a visitor to the campus said, "Well, we all get old."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press