05/18/2007 02:40 PM
The LSU tiger mascot, Mike V, passed away at 2:23 a.m. on May 18. Mike V was born October 19, 1989, and has been at LSU since he was four months old. He was 17 years old at the time of his passing.
Mike was brought to the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine on Wednesday, May 16, for a routine exam. His veterinarian, Dr. David Baker, noticed that he was having trouble breathing the day before. During the exam, it was discovered that he had a condition called “idiopathic chylothorax.” This is a serious condition with a poor prognosis. Because of this condition, Mike had to have emergency surgery to remove 10 liters of fluid from around his lungs. Given his age all surgeries are risky, but without surgery it is doubtful that he would have lived another week. As a result of the anesthesia, Mike’s kidneys failed. He was placed on renal dialysis, but treatment was unsuccessful.
A necropsy will be performed at the School of Veterinary Medicine to determine, if possible, the cause of the chylothorax. Mike will then be cremated.
Mike V was donated to LSU by Dr. Thomas and Caroline Atchison of the Animal Zoological Park in Moulton, Ala. He was introduced to LSU fans at the LSU-Alabama basketball game in February 1990, and he was moved into his home, north of Tiger Stadium, on April 30, 1990.
When Mike V first came to LSU, his night house was part of the original habitat constructed in 1937. In 1981, Mike’s outdoor enclosure had a $175,000 renovation, making it three times larger. The renovation added a grassy area, pool, climbing platforms, and a tiger-sized wooden scratching post. The grassy area was covered with a soft rubber material in the early 1990s.
A capital fund-raising campaign kicked off in 2001 to raise funds to build a new habitat for Mike V. Construction began in November 2004 and was completed in August 2005. The new habitat incorporates natural substrates, including grass, and also includes elements of LSU’s renaissance architecture and facts educating Mike’s visitors on the five living subspecies of tigers.
Two of LSU’s Tiger mascots, Mike I and Mike III, lived 19 years, and Mike IV lived 20 years 9 months and 18 days. The average lifespan for a tiger in the wild is about 8-10 years. A tiger in captivity, like Mike V, can live 14-18 years.
Plans are underway to acquire a new tiger.