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LSU's next Mike the Tiger mascot won't enter the football stadium

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A longtime LSU tradition is a thing of the past, but there’s a good reason for it.

Florida v LSU Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

LSU’s live mascot, Mike the Tiger, will no longer be an in-stadium attraction during games at the university’s Tiger Stadium. LSU announced the news Thursday.

Responsible care for live exotic animals has evolved throughout the years, and LSU has evolved with it, as evidenced by the renovations to the tiger habitat in 1981 and the construction of an entirely new habitat in 2004-05. In that vein, LSU has decided that the tiger will not go into Tiger Stadium on home football game days. He will be out in his yard seven days a week. By having Mike in his yard on game days, it ensures that fans are able to see him throughout the day.

As further evidence of LSU’s dedication to providing the best, most responsible care for tigers, LSU is working to have the tiger habitat accredited as a tiger sanctuary. Becoming an accredited sanctuary means that LSU has met high standards of excellence in animal care and is operating ethically and responsibly. LSU believes that these changes are in the best interest of the longevity and ethical management of the LSU tiger mascot program.

LSU’s sixth version of Mike the Tiger, Mike VI, died in October. He was a beloved member of the Baton Rouge and LSU communities, and his passing generated headlines and well wishes from all around the country.

The school hasn’t yet found his replacement, Mike VII. The school says its plan is to find the new Mike the Tiger in time to “join LSU’s incoming freshman class in August.”

Once he’s in Baton Rouge, Mike VII will permanently remain in the university’s tiger habitat. It’s sad to see a fun tradition end, but that’s for the best. Captivity isn’t natural for a tiger, but a dedicated (if human-created) habitat is a more humane place to keep one than a cage being paraded around a stadium with 100,000 people in it.

Mike VI stopped entering the stadium during the 2015 season, right before his health took its turn for the worst. His successors will not return.