Animal rights groups petition to ditch live tiger mascot

An animal advocacy group is calling for Louisiana State University to end its tradition of having a live tiger, Mike, as its mascot.

The petition has gained more than 92,000 signatures, but the university insists that it is “providing a home for the tigers,” reported WAFB

“Please sign this petition if you believe animals should be free, not held captive to be used as mascots,” Care2 Team, the petition starter, states.

Care2 bills itself as “the world’s largest community for good” and opposes “bigots, bullies, science deniers, misogynists, gun lobbyists, xenophobes, the willfully ignorant, animal abusers, frackers, and other mean people.”

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The petition explains the history of the current Mike the Tiger and tigers that have come before.

“Mike VII isn’t the first tiger mascot LSU has used,” Care2 Team states. “In fact, he’s the seventh tiger — hence the name. His predecessor died last year from terminal cancer after living his last years confined in a limited space only to be allowed outside for display at football games.” 

“While the university has made efforts to improve the quality of the tiger’s enclosure, increasing its size and adding a variety of outdoor activities, it is cruel to sentence a tiger to such captivity. Animals are not here for our amusement,” concludes the petition. 

Care2 Team demands that Louisiana State University stop using live tigers for its mascots and release Mike VII. The group’s petition has accumulated more than 92,000 signatures out of its 95,000-signature goal at the time of publication. 

A previous Care2 petition, which was started back in 2016 after “Mike VI” died, called on LSU to no longer use a live tiger as a mascot. That petition topped out with more 142,000 signatures.

“Although LSU has upgraded Mike VII’s enclosure and stopped hauling him out in front of thousands of screaming football fans, [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)] urges the university to seek accreditation from the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries—which is the gold star of captive-animal care and would ensure that any future ‘Mikes’ are true rescues who are treated as sensitive living beings, with needs and interests that can’t be satisfied when they’re used as a mascot,” PETA Vice President of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders told Campus Reform

LSU College Republicans Chairman Joshua Tucker disagrees. He told Campus Reform that efforts to get rid of the school’s live mascot are “asinine.”

“The petition states that it is ‘cruel’ to sentence Mike to such a life, but I completely disagree. There is no tiger in the world loved more than Mike VII,” Tucker said, adding that there is a “huge fanbase that nearly worships him” and that Mike enjoys “top of the line medical care, and a staff that serves at his beck and call.”

Tucker then addressed the enclosure in which the tigers live, saying “by no means is it a mere cage,” but rather a “multimillion dollar habitat that has room for [Mike] to run and play and even a large swimming pool for him to swim in.”

The Chairman noted that the habitat is set to receive a $1 million dollar upgrade and that “virtually all” of the petition’s signatories are people outside of the state and even the country.

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“Mikes IV, V, VI and VII were all donated to LSU from rescue facilities,” LSU spokeswoman Ernie Ballard told Campus Reform. “The university does not support the for-profit breeding of tigers. By providing a home for a tiger that needs one, LSU hopes to raise awareness about the problem of irresponsible breeding and the plight of tigers kept illegally and/or inappropriately in captivity in the U.S.” 

LSU also encouraged people to visit a webpage with more information regarding the tigers the school has kept as mascots. 

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