LSU likely to ignore PETA, obtain new tiger mascot

BATON ROUGE, La. -- A group of animal advocates is urging
LSU not to replace its recently departed mascot with another live
tiger but school officials appear unlikely to accept that idea.

"Big cats in captivity are denied everything that is natural
and important to them, such as the opportunity to run, climb, hunt,
establish their territory, and choose their mates," Lisa Wathne,
of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, says in a letter to
school officials.

"The LSU mascot is part of the LSU community, part of the LSU
family; a tradition for 71 years," said Dr. David Baker of the LSU
Veterinary School, who cared for Mike and was visibly shaken last
week by the tiger's death from kidney failure. "And we intend to
obtain another tiger."

LSU officials did not comment specifically on Wathne's letter
Monday but offered several general responses, noting that many
wildlife experts believe the Bengal tiger population in the wild is
about 500 or fewer and may not be sustainable. Also, a tiger in
captivity is not pursued by poachers.

Mike was moved last year into a $3 million home, complete with a
bathing pool and waterfall, that offered 15,000 square feet of
living space.

"The tigers we will have here will have nothing but top-notch
care and facilities," LSU spokeswoman Kristine Calongne said.

PETA, citing its own figures, argues that thousands of tigers
are held in private captivity in the United States. Also, Wathne
said, tiger habitats should be measured in acres, not feet.