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Mike VII, LSU’s Live Tiger Mascot, Received COVID-19 Vaccination

BATON ROUGE—On July 16, Mike VII, LSU’s live tiger mascot, received his first COVID-19 vaccination from his veterinarian, David Baker, DVM, Ph.D., and his second dose on Aug. 6. The vaccine was donated by Zoetis, which is donating more than 11,000 of its COVID-19 vaccine to help protect the health and well-being of more than 100 mammalian species living in zoos, conservatories, sanctuaries, academic institutions, and government organizations located in 27 states.

Mike VII has not shown any adverse effects from the vaccine. His caretakers will continue to monitor him closely as always. LSU is dedicated to providing the best care for Mike VII.

In 2020, lions and tigers at the Bronx Zoo were diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans. It is believed that the animals contracted the virus from zookeepers. Because of this, in 2020 LSU put up barricades around the Tiger Habitat to keep visitors at least 10 feet from Mike VII. Now that Mike has been vaccinated, the barricades will be removed the week of Aug. 17.

In addition to the barricades around the habitat, the LSU mascot team instituted procedures to prevent disease transmission. LSU also restricted access to the night house to only those personnel directly involved in Mike’s care.

Zoetis’ COVID-19 Vaccine

The vaccine has been authorized for experimental use by the United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, and the state veterinarian. The vaccine deployment to dozens of zoos follows Zoetis’ response in January to a request from the San Diego Zoo following confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. There have also been confirmed cases of COVID-19 in captive tigers. More information about this program by Zoetis can be found online at https://news.zoetis.com/press-releases/press-release-details/2021/Zoetis-Donates-COVID-19-Vaccines-to-Help-Support-the-Health-of-Zoo-Animals/default.aspx.

About Mike VII

Mike VII was donated to LSU from “Wild at Heart Wildlife Center” in Okeechobee, Fla. He arrived on campus on Aug. 15, 2017. He is currently four years old and will turn five on Sept. 13, 2021.

About the LSU Live Mascot Program

LSU has had a live tiger since Oct. 21, 1936, starting with Mike I, who was purchased from the Little Rock Zoo. Mike II was purchased from the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, La., and Mike III was purchased from the Seattle Zoo.

Mikes IV, V and VI were all donated to LSU from rescue facilities. LSU has not purchased a tiger since Mike III in 1958, and LSU does not support the for-profit breeding of tigers. By providing a home for a tiger that needs one, LSU hopes to raise awareness about the problem of irresponsible breeding and the plight of tigers kept illegally and/or inappropriately in captivity in the U.S.

The tiger habitat and LSU’s animal care plan are licensed by the USDA. The facility, tiger and animal care programs are inspected annually to ensure that they comply with the Federal Animal Welfare Act and other USDA policies and guidelines.

      This and other information on LSU’s tigers can be found online at www.lsu.edu/mikethetiger. You can follow Mike on Facebook (www.facebook.com/mikethetiger), Twitter (@mikethetiger) and Instagram (@mikethetiger_lsu).

About the LSU SVM

The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine is one of only 32 veterinary schools in the U.S. and the only one in Louisiana. The LSU SVM is dedicated to improving the lives of people and animals through education, research, and service. We teach. We heal. We discover. We protect.