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LSU mascot Mike VI dies after cancer battle

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Mike VI, the 11-year-old tiger mascot at Louisiana State University, has died after a four-month battle with cancer, the school announced Tuesday.

Mike VI was euthanized in its "night house" on the Baton Rouge campus by Dr. David Baker of the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, the school said in a statement. The tiger had been moved into hospice Monday after his handlers said the tiger's health had declined to the point that he couldn't be outside anymore.

The announcement triggered a wave of online tributes for the 11-year-old tiger, which LSU has said was one of only two live tiger college mascots in the U.S. and the only one living on a college campus.

"Thanks for the memories and all the joy you brought to the #LSU family," Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a Twitter post.

LSU said there won't a formal memorial service for Mike VI, but the school encouraged fans to share their "memories, stories and photos" of the mascot on social media.

The tiger was diagnosed in May with a rare and inoperable form of cancer. At the time, veterinarians said treating its spindle cell sarcoma with radiation therapy could extend the tiger's life by one or two more years.

However, last week, the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine announced that a CT scan and physical exam showed a tumor in the tiger's skull had grown and his cancer had spread, giving him only one or two months left to live.

The 420-pound tiger was 2 years old when he arrived at LSU, donated by an Indiana animal sanctuary. He lived in a 15,000-square-foot enclosure and yard next to Tiger Stadium.

Last month, LSU announced that Mike VI wouldn't take the field during home football games this season and instead would remain in its campus habitat.

Baker said last week that the university has asked him to begin searching animal rescue facilities for a Mike VII.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.