Mike VI, the tiger mascot who lives in the shadow of LSU's Tiger Stadium, only has about one to two months to live, his primary vet said Wednesday (Oct. 5). The announcement was made during a press conference at the LSU Vet School, which is responsible for Mike's care.
Dr. David Baker, who directly oversees Mike VI's care, announced Wednesday morning that a CT and X-ray scans revealed the tumor in the tiger's head had resumed growing and that his cancer had spread elsewhere. Despite what Baker described as an aggressive treatment, small, pea-sized tumors are now along Mike's legs and also in his lungs and neck, Baker said, and his right-side nasal cavity is blocked, which gave him a sinus infection last week.
The tiger's appetite has returned, Baker said, after last week's treatment of his sinus infection, which prevented him from feeling hungry.
His overall condition, however, indicates that no further radiation could be helpful, Baker said, and instead Mike will continue to be let out into his outdoor habitat at LSU until his condition requires him to go into a kind of hospice care. At that point, doctors will continue to monitor him until "humane euthanasia" is administered.
"We will not allow Mike VI to suffer," Baker said, noting that when that will be is not clear at this point. After Mike is taken into hospice care, which will occur in his regular night house, he will no longer be let outside for public visits at his habitat.
The university will look into adopting another tiger, Baker said, which they'll find through a rescue organization. On the Facebook page maintained from the tiger's perspective, a representative posted a video Tuesday of Mike the Tiger pacing his habitat on LSU's campus.
"Outside after my checkup (at the LSU Vet School) yesterday," reads the post. "Evaluating results and will post them this week."
The school first announced its mascot had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer — spindle cell sarcoma — just about two months before his 11th birthday. Since then, he began undergoing an aggressive treatment, which included trips to Baton Rouge's Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center, where doctors had the odd experience of rolling the 500 pound tiger on a gurney through the hospital's hallways on his way to treatment.
Outside the hospital, Mike the Tiger's fans have noticed a dark grey spot on his nose, where a radiation burn showed where his treatment had focused.
Mike's particular form of cancer, Baker said, has been one of the most aggressive of its type seen by veterinary professionals he consulted with in treating the tiger.
Baker also listed a number of things he said he's thankful for, including that LSU students are better "global citizens" because of what they learn about tigers and that students and doctors have been able to learn themselves about their care.
It's not yet clear if a public funeral or memorial will be held, but, following a necropsy of Mike IV's body, the tiger will be cremated and his ashes will join those of Mike IV and Mike V at the Jack and Priscilla Andonie sports museum on campus.
Mike the Tiger has 1 to 2 months to live, LSU vet says | NOLA.com