PETA asks LSU to stop using captive tigers as mascots - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

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PETA asks LSU to stop using captive tigers as mascots

Mike VI (Source: Samantha Morgan WAFB) Mike VI (Source: Samantha Morgan WAFB)

A national animal rights organization is calling for the Louisiana flagship university to stop using live tigers. 

Officials reported Monday that LSU's sixth tiger mascot, Mike VI, has been diagnosed with a terminal cancer

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Following the news, PETA and LSU Animal Advocates sent a letter to LSU asking for the university to not get another live mascot. Part of PETA's motto is that "animals are not ours to use for entertainment."  

In the letter, the organization talks about how captive big cats, such as tigers, can suffer psychologically when they are stressed, uncomfortable and confined. They went on to note that the university also exposes the tigers to "bright lights and rowdy crowds at football games," according to a release. 

"People today realize that orcas don't belong in tanks, elephants don't belong in circuses, and tigers don't belong in cages in stadiums," said Rachel Mathews with the PETA Foundation. "PETA is calling on LSU to honor Mike VI and spare future tigers a lifetime of misery by ending the live-mascot program for good."

LSU spokesperson Ernie Ballard released the following statement Tuesday about the letter:

"As Dr. Baker said yesterday, our primary concern right now is caring for Mike VI and making sure he gets the best possible medical treatment for his condition. This is not the time to discuss football season or a new tiger mascot. We are focused on Mike’s health and well-being at this time."

Below is the letter that PETA and LSU Animal Advocates sent to LSU President F. King Alexander:

May 24, 2016

Fieldon King Alexander
Louisiana State University

Dear Mr. Alexander,

I'm writing on behalf of PETA, which has more than 5 million members and supporters worldwide, including tens of thousands in Louisiana, to offer our sympathies about Mike the tiger's cancer diagnosis. I would also like to request that you consider the following information about how tigers suffer in captivity and make Mike VI Louisiana State University's (LSU) last live mascot.

Captive big cats (who naturally shun human contact) are deprived of everything that is natural and important to them. 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. Tigers are particularly unsuited to captivity because they require large areas to roam and opportunities to swim and climb. Even under the best of care, a tiger's most basic instincts are thwarted in captivity, and continuing to use live animals as mascots perpetuates the cruel notion that sensitive, complex wild animals should be caged and put on display like championship trophies. 

People go to LSU football games because they want to see top college athletes playing the best football in the country, not because there's a caged tiger sitting on the sidelines. I hope you agree that it's time to recognize society's growing distaste for animal exhibition and bring a new tradition to LSU of using only willing, costumed human mascots. Orcas don't belong in tanks, elephants don't belong in the circus, and tigers do not belong in stadiums. In his sickly condition, Mike VI should not be wheeled out to games this coming season. Generations of tigers have given LSU everything they have—isn't it time for LSU to give something back? We hope to hear from you soon. Thank you.

Respectfully yours,

Lewis Crary 
Captive Wildlife Specialist 
Captive Animal Law Enforcement | PETA Foundation 
Cheyenne Fouts
Secretary and Event Coordinator | LSU Animal Advocates

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