BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana State University’s live tiger mascot died Tuesday following months of treatment for a rare form of cancer.
Mike VI was euthanized in its “night house” on the Baton Rouge campus by Dr. David Baker of the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, the school said in a statement.
The announcement triggered a wave of online tributes for the 11-year-old tiger, which LSU has said was one of only two live tiger college mascots in the U.S. and the only one living on a college campus.
“Rest in peace, @MikeTigerVI,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a Twitter post. “Thanks for the memories and all the joy you brought to the #LSU family.”
LSU said there won’t a formal memorial service for Mike VI, but the school encouraged fans to share their “memories, stories and photos” of the mascot on social media.
Mike VI was diagnosed in May with a rare and inoperable form of cancer. At the time, veterinarians said treating its spindle cell sarcoma with radiation therapy could extend the tiger’s life by one or two more years.
However, Baker announced last week that a CT scan and physical exam showed a tumor in the tiger’s skull had grown and the cancer had spread to other parts of its body.
The 420-pound tiger was 2 years old when it arrived at LSU in 2007, donated by an Indiana animal sanctuary. It lived in a 15,000-square-foot enclosure and yard next to Tiger Stadium.
Last month, LSU announced that Mike VI wouldn’t take the field during home football games this season and instead would remain in its campus habitat.
Baker said last week that LSU has asked him to begin searching animal rescue facilities for a Mike VII.
“We intend to obtain a young male tiger in need of a good home,” he added. “So many of these facilities take on perhaps more animals really than they can manage.”