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Millions watch video of Mike the Tiger 'stalk' LSU visitor. Then his caretaker pounced

Nearly 4 million people have watched a Facebook video of LSU's mascot, Mike the Tiger, stalking a visitor outside his glass-enclosed habitat and pouncing at the glass. But Mike's caretakers want visitors to stop enticing him to do that.
Nearly 4 million people have watched a Facebook video of LSU's mascot, Mike the Tiger, stalking a visitor outside his glass-enclosed habitat and pouncing at the glass. But Mike's caretakers want visitors to stop enticing him to do that. Facebook/Kevin Felder Jr.

He looked like a big cat in the jungle stalking its prey.

Mike the Tiger moved through the water of his glassed-in enclosure with the elegant stealth of, well, a tiger.

Slowly, slowly, one meaty paw in front of the other, the Bengal beast crept through the water until he reached his "prey," a man standing on the other side of the glass, his back turned.

Wham!

Mike the Tiger pounced at the glass — and became an internet star.

A Facebook video of Louisiana State University's live mascot trying to "pounce" on a visitor has been watched nearly 4 million times since Sunday.

"I learned why u don’t turn your back on a tiger," wrote Kevin Felder, Jr., the man who posted the video on his Facebook page.

Mike is the living, breathing embodiment of the school's Tiger mascot. He has his own website where it is written that this Mike the Tiger is the seventh in the school's history. Mike VII "began his reign," the website says, on the first day of classes for the 2017 fall semester.

He lives in a $3.7 million, 15,000-square foot habitat between the football stadium and basketball arena. It has a waterfall, stream, live plants and trees, and is inspected annually to make sure it, and Mike, comply with the federal Animal Welfare Act and other USDA rules, the website says.

So, when Mike's caretakers saw the viral video of him pouncing at the glass, they were less amused than others who saw it.

Mike, known to be very playful with his guests, was following his instinct when he pounced in the video, Ginger Guttner, public relations director for the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, told WBRZ in Baton Rouge. The school is in charge of Mike's care.

"He's an ambush predator, so they tend to attack from the back, so when people turn their backs to the glass, it does make him want to do that," said Guttner.

The Times-Picayune in New Orleans noted that the viral video also shows Mike swimming near the glass where other people seem to purposefully be standing with their backs to him. But Mike just paws at the glass to get their attention.

Because Mike, who is now 21 months old, was still a playful cub of 11 months when he moved to campus, his caretakers posted signs asking visitors to keep pets and stuffed animals — anything that would encourage him to pounce — away from the fence and glass, Guttner told the TV station.

Then along comes this viral video.

The problem is that when Mike jumps at the glass he could hit his mouth and break a tooth, which might mean surgery or being unable to eat, Guttner said. In the wild, she told WBRZ, tooth loss is the number cause of death for tigers.

So please, she asked, stop trying to get Mike to pounce.

"It's not about breaking a rule, it's more about what's best for the tiger," she told the TV station.

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