LSU royalty

Kyle Riviere
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

When we see Mike the Tiger, we get caught up in just how beautiful and majestic he looks and how big and powerful he is. His size, elegance and splendor often leaves us in awe or propels us to grab our phones to shoot a quick picture.

When opposing teams come out of Tiger Stadium’s visiting locker room and see 102,000 rabid fans waiting, hear the boos echo throughout the arena and catch a glimpse of Mike staring them down, fear and intimidation are there to meet them.

Whatever the emotion may be, whatever adjective may come to mind, Mike is more than just any tiger. He’s larger than life. We never really take the time to acknowledge his mortality.

Unfortunately, we were forced to face it head on last week as it was announced that Mike VI has been diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer that is inoperable and incurable.

Mike will now undergo Stereotactic radiotherapy that will deliver radiation to the tumor, sparing the surrounding tissue.

It’s estimated that without the treatment, Mike would only live one to two more months. With the treatment, he could live for two more years.

Mike VI has been LSU’s mascot since 2007. He brought some very good luck to Baton Rouge. His first year, the Tigers won their third national title.

This is just a stark reminder that humans are not the only ones affected by cancer’s devastating grasp. More and more animals have begun to fall victim to the crippling disease.

If things were not bad enough, here comes the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

PETA has made a stink about LSU using a live tiger mascot in the past, but with Mike’s cancer diagnosis, it gave them more fuel to lash out at the school last week.

They want LSU to end its tradition of having a live mascot after the inevitable passing of Mike VI.

In a letter they sent to the school, they said that tigers “live in perpetual states of confinement, discomfort and stress, and, at LSU games, are subjected to a constant barrage of disorienting lights and activity.”

The letter went on, saying, “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.”

I love animals. I hate to see animals harmed, but that is not the case with Mike the Tiger.

As usual, PETA has taken their love for animals to an excessive level that defies logic and sanity.

This is the same group that just placed a billboard in downtown Indianapolis asking to end the tradition of drivers celebrating an Indianapolis 500 victory by drinking a bottle of milk.

The billboard says, “Cow’s milk is for calves, not drivers or other humans.” This is not satire. This is an actual billboard inspired by actual beliefs from actual PETA members.

And believe me, this kind of ridiculously overblown form of protest is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to PETA.

Mike the Tiger is living the good life. He’s treated like a king.

He’s living better than a lot of us. His state of the art habitat is 15,000 square feet and cost $4 million to construct.

Mike has a waterfall and stream to take a dip in whenever he’s hot, a cave to stay in whenever he wants to get away from the brutal Louisiana heat and plenty of rocks to venture across.

He has an army of people looking after him, and he gets fed 25 pounds of meat each day and 175 pounds per week.

Unfortunately, tigers have it rough these days. The species used to be spread out so vastly, but that has decreased by 93 percent in the past 100 years.

It’s such a sad number, but the global census estimated that the current worldwide tiger population is a mere 3,890.

More and more tigers are being vanquished each day due to habitat destruction and fragmentation, and of course, poaching.

In such a scary modern world, it has become a benefit for tigers to live in captivity. Tigers like Mike are able to be looked after and protected. They never have to worry about their homes being taken away by bulldozers and construction crews or being shot dead by some poacher looking to make big bucks.

Instead, Mike gets visits from some of his best friends each day, and on seven Saturday nights in the fall, he gets to lead the best college football team in the land onto the field. Well, when he feels like it, that is.