peta.jpgPETA is urging LSU to replace Mike V with a human mascot instead of another bengal tiger, complaining that big cats in captivity are denied the opportunity to run, climb, hunt, establish their territory, and choose their mate. Evidently huge sports fans, PETA explains in a press release and letter to LSU’s chancellor that “[c]ostumed human mascots are in use at most universities, and no major professional sports team includes live animals in its mascot program.”

When hearing of the possibility that LSU could switch to a human mascot, dozens of students from the Kirby Smith dormitory no doubt volunteered for the chance to live in Mike V’s former $3 million habitat, complete with a waterfall, live oaks and an Italianate tower. The job also comes with free meals and full medical and dental benefits.

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PETA to LSU: Stick to Human Mascots Only

For Immediate Release:
May 22, 2007

Contact:
Lisa Wathne 757-622-7382

Baton Rouge, La. — This morning, PETA sent an urgent letter to Louisiana State University (LSU) Chancellor Sean O’Keefe urging him to permanently scratch live animal mascots from the LSU team rosters and use only humans in tiger costumes instead. PETA’s letter comes in the wake of the death of Mike V, the school’s Bengal tiger mascot, who died last Friday of complications from surgery. Mike was 17 years old. PETA points out that according to wildlife experts, tigers and other large carnivores suffer extremely in captivity because they are denied the opportunity to engage in many behaviors that are natural and important to them. PETA also reminds O’Keefe that replacing Mike with another tiger would mean taking a cub from his mother months before the two would normally part, causing both mother and cub to suffer severe stress and trauma.

“Most college teamsand all major professional teamsuse human mascots, who are far more capable of interacting with fans than scared animals are,” says PETA Director Debbie Leahy. “The biggest tribute that LSU could pay to Mike would be to make sure that no more of these magnificent animals are forced to live a life of deprivation just to make a public appearance a few days a year.”

PETA’s letter to LSU Chancellor Sean O’Keefe follows.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

May 22, 2007

Sean O’Keefe, Chancellor
Louisiana State University
Office of the Chancellor
156 Thomas Boyd Hall
Baton Rouge, LA 70803

Dear Chancellor O’Keefe:

We are writing to express our sympathy over the death of Louisiana State University’s (LSU) mascot, Mike the tiger, and to urge the school not to replace him. Big cats in captivity are denied everything that is natural and important to them, such as the opportunity to run, climb, hunt, establish their territory, and choose their mates. In October 2003, the journal Nature reported Oxford University researchers’ findings that large, roving predatorssuch as tigersshow stereotypical symptoms of stress when they are kept in captivity because they are unable to satisfy their instinct to roam. The authors conclude, “[T]he keeping of naturally wide-ranging carnivores should be either fundamentally improved or phased out.” Even LSU’s new enclosure simply cannot fully provide for a tiger’s needs.

If LSU purchases a tiger cub, a newborn tiger will be forcibly removed from his or her mother within days of birth. Tigers have strong maternal instincts, and mothers nurse their young for three to six months. Premature separation is psychologically damaging to both infants and their mothers and deprives tiger babies of the maternal care that they need for normal physical and mental development.

Costumed human mascots are currently in use at most universities, and no major professional sports team includes live animals in its mascot program. The versatility of human performers allows them to interact directly with fans and entertain them throughout the game by leading cheers, reacting to the crowd, and pumping up the team. A frightened animal can’t do any of these things. Human mascots can also promote the team within the community and participate in community service. For example, the Jacksonville Jaguars sent their costumed human mascot to the Middle East in 2001 to support U.S. troops.

May we please tell our members that LSU has made the compassionate decision not to subject another live tiger to an unnatural life as a school mascot? I can be reached at 757-622-7382.

Sincerely,

Lisa Wathne
Captive Exotic Animal Specialist

Enclosure: “Captivity Effects on Wide-Ranging Carnivores,” Nature, October 2, 2003

cc: Skip Bertman, LSU Athletic Director
Dr. David Baker

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