1.14.18 Tiger Captivity

Mike the Tiger enjoys the cold weather on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, in his habitat on LSU campus.

All LSU students love Mike the Tiger, but how much do we actually know about the live mascot’s lavish lifestyle?

Mike VII arrived on campus three years ago from Wild at Heart Wildlife Center in Florida and has won over the hearts of many LSU fans. Weighing just 179 pounds as an 11-month-old when he arrived, Mike has grown into his place at the University.

Mike has a 15,105-square-foot enclosure, including a night house, and School of Veterinary Medicine Professor David Baker as his personal veterinarian.

An average day for the University’s mascot begins with being woken up in his nearly 1,000-square-foot night house, which includes the equivalent of a dining room and bedroom. This task is completed by his daily caretakers, two veterinarian students at the LSU School of

Veterinary Medicine. Mike’s morning routine can take anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours.

School of Veterinary Medicine Communications Manager Ginger Guttner emphasized the importance of Mike’s caretaker. Guttner said these caretakers have worked with Mike for two years and visit him twice daily.

“Every day, twice a day, seven days a week, for two years, one or both of them has to go over there,” Guttner said. “I always joke: it’s Christmas, it’s your sister’s wedding, it’s your brother’s high-school graduation, but someone’s got to go morning and night.”

The caretakers are responsible for Mike and maintaining his habitat. They must make sure the grounds are free of litter, the fences are safe and secure, the pool filters are clean and the night house is sanitary.

Because of the longevity of the morning routine and the caretakers’ personal schedules, Mike’s hours of visitation with the LSU community may fluctuate, but he is usually outside around 8 a.m. and back inside at night no later than 8 p.m.

While outside, Mike has been known to play with many visitors through the glass of his habitat. Guttner said he’s very active because of his young age.

“He is very sweet, and he is a little goofy,” Guttner said.

When the time comes for Mike to go back indoors for the night, he is ready for dinner. Many of his meals can be seen in shapes of the LSU football team’s opponents’ mascots via social media and might even be mistaken for hamburger meat. The 15 pounds of food Mike eats every night are a part of his commercially-prepared, carnivorous, feline diet, which is specifically formulated for big cats in captivity.

With his last weigh-in reading 419 pounds, it’s safe to say Mike is well fed. Considering that some tigers in the wild might not eat every day, Mike’s daily diet is definitely fit for a champion, according to Guttner.

Mike invites everyone to celebrate his third birthday this Friday by visiting him at his habitat.

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