After years of intense confinement, degradation and abuse, Louisiana State University’s Bengal tiger mascot, Mike, is dying of cancer and slated to be euthanized in just weeks.
Rather than taking this opportunity to end their cruel tradition of exploiting live tigers as mascots, LSU plans to subject a new tiger to the same heartbreaking confinement.
In a time when Bengal tigers are listed as an endangered species and conservation should be a top priority, LSU has made the appalling claim that they will “obtain a young male tiger in need of a good home.” But life in a cage, forced to perform for loud crowds during sporting events, is no “good home” for a big cat who belongs in the wild roaming free.
In a letter written to the LSU President Fieldon Alexander, Captive Wildlife Specialist Lewis Crary explains the harmful effects of captivity on big cats, specifically tigers: “They live in perpetual states of confinement, discomfort, and stress and, at LSU games, are subjected to a constant barrage of disorienting lights and activity. They often become despondent and develop neurotic and self-destructive types of behavior, including pacing, bar-biting, and self-mutilation.”
The new tiger would be the seventh in a line of Bengals serving as living mascots for the university’s widely popular Division I athletics, continuing LSU’s long history of animal exploitation for the sake of athletic tradition and spirit. LSU is one of only two universities using live tiger mascots, and it’s time for this outdated tradition to end.
For the health of the tiger, and the good of the species, we must guarantee that this selfish tradition will end now. The tigers need your help: Tell LSU no more live Bengal tiger mascots!