While most schools have animals for mascots, not all of them keep a live version of the team namesake on campus. Students at LSU however have come to know and love their very own mascot, Mike, the Tiger. Over the years there have been 6 different tigers named Mike who lived on the campus in Baton Rouge. The most recent, a Bengal-Siberian mix, Mike VI, died recently from cancer. While cancer is not unheard of in tigers, the form of the disease that Mike had, spindle cell carcinoma, is relatively rare in tigers. It normally starts as a lesion on the skin and progresses to internal organs. Spindle cell tumor and spindle cell sarcoma are descriptive names based on the long, narrow appearance of the cells under the microscope. Spindle cell tumor is not a specific diagnosis or a specific type of cancer.
In May of this year it was announced that Mike the Tiger had a tumor on his nose and part of his face. At that time, veterinarians had planned a course of cutting edge radio therapy called Stereotactic Radio Therapy or SRT. It's a method where the radiation is delivered almost directly to the tumor site, minimizing damage to surrounding tissues. The treatment was carried out at Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center, a treatment center for humans, but no patients or staff seemed to mind the addition of Mike to their patient roster. In early October LSU officials announced that the treatment was not working and on October 11th, Mike was humanely euthanized, after having been placed in hospice care in his enclosure. No service was planned, but many visitors and students left flowers and notes.