LSU’s tiger mascot undergoes stereotactic radiotherapy

Mike VI, Louisiana State University’s tiger mascot, recently underwent stereotactic radiotherapy to help treat spindle cell sarcoma

Louisiana State University’s tiger mascot, Mike VI, recently underwent stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT) at Mary Bird Perkins—Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center. Mike VI was diagnosed with a spindle cell sarcoma in late May after he was taken to the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine for a physical examination and diagnostic studies.

The procedure, which delivers a precise, concentrated dose of radiation, was performed with the hope to extend the nearly 11-year-old tiger’s life. The treatment is not curative, according to the university, but should allow him to live comfortably for some time.

LSU’s tiger mascot, Mike VI, was anesthetized in early June and taken to Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center for stereotactic radiotherapy, which delivered a precise, concentrated dose of radiation to Mike’s cancer.

Eventually, the radiation-resistant cells remaining in the tumor will resume growth. As for timeframes, it is estimated that without treatment Mike VI could live 1 to 2 months; with treatment, perhaps 1 to 2 years, according to the university.

It appears only one treatment is needed, LSU noted.

At press time, Mike VI was awake and recovering well back at his night house on the LSU campus. He was recovering from the general anesthesia necessary for the treatment.

Mike VI is not expected to experience more than mild and transient side effects from the treatment. LSU’s attending veterinarian David Baker, DVM, Ph.D., and his veterinary student caretakers will closely monitor Mike VI.

All About Mike

  • Mike VI is one of only two live tiger college mascots in the United States. He is the only live tiger living on a college campus in the United States.
  • Mike VI, was born July 23, 2005, and came to LSU when he was two years old. At the time of his arrival at LSU, he weighed 320 pounds. Mike currently weighs about 420 pounds. His weight cycles throughout the year. He weighs most in the summer and least in the winter.
  • Mike VI was donated by Great Cats of Indiana, a nonprofit sanctuary and rescue facility for big cats and other large carnivores, located in Idaville, Ind. (Mike IV and Mike V were also donated to LSU by sanctuaries.)
  • Construction on the current tiger habitat was completed in August 2005. The habitat incorporates natural substrates, including grass, and also includes elements of LSU’s renaissance architecture and facts educating Mike’s visitors on the living subspecies of tigers. Mike’s yard encompasses 14,010 square feet (the total square footage of his enclosure including his night house is 15,105).
  • Mike VI has a personal veterinarian from the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. David Baker, who oversees his overall healthcare and wellbeing. Besides Dr. Baker, there are numerous other specialists at the veterinary school available to assist with the specialized healthcare needs of Mike VI. Mike’s daily care is provided by two veterinary students. These students work with Mike for two years until they graduate from LSU.
  • All medical procedures requiring anesthesia are done at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. Simple, routine medical procedures are performed in his night house.
  • Two of LSU’s Tiger mascots (Mike 1 and Mike III) lived 19 years, Mike IV lived 20 years, 9 months and 18 days, and Mike V lived 17 years. The average lifespan for a tiger in the wild is about 8 to 10 years. A tiger in captivity, like Mike VI, can live 14 to 18 years.
  •  Mike VI has a Facebook page ( and is also on Twitter (@MikeTigerVI) and Instragram (@MikeTigerVI).

Source: Louisiana State University

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