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LSU tiger's death evokes memories of college football's famed mascot

LSU tiger's death evokes memories of college football's famed mascot
Mike VI, LSU's tiger mascot, rests in his habitat on Oct. 17, 2015. He was euthanized Tuesday after a four-month battle with cancer. (Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

With fans leaving notes and flowers at the habitat of the late Mike VI — creating an impromptu memorial for Louisiana State's deceased tiger — it's a good time for some history on one of college football's best-known mascots.

LSU has kept a live Bengal tiger as a mascot since 1936, paying the Little Rock Zoo $750 for the original Mike, who was named after the school's athletic trainer at the time.

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The animal's handlers used to bang on his cage before games to elicit a response — every growl was supposed to equal a touchdown that night. Complaints of animal cruelty eventually put an end to that practice.

For many years, the tiger traveled regularly with the team, but that ended in 1970 after the cage overturned in a highway accident.

Tulane students once kidnapped him. Then, in the mid-1980s, pranksters cut the lock on his cage before another Tulane game, allowing Mike IV to run free on campus and demolish a few small pine trees.

A veterinarian used a tranquilizer gun to recapture the tiger.

The 11-year-old Mike VI was euthanized Tuesday after a four-month battle with cancer. He lived in a 15,000-square-foot habitat on campus.

The school said it has begun searching for a tiger cub replacement.

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