Mike the tiger arrives at LSU

Published 12:28 am Monday, August 27, 2007

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Mike the Tiger spent his first day at his new home on Sunday.

The new LSU mascot arrived and made himself at home after a plane flight from Indiana.

‘‘After a long ordeal, the tiger is here,’’ said Michael Ruffner, LSU vice chancellor of communications.

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‘‘It could not have gone better,’’ Ruffner said of the plane trip and the subsequent Acadian Ambulance ride. ‘‘Everything was flawless.’’

The 2-year-old, male Bengal tiger will now undergo a two-week quarantine or ‘‘acclimation’’ process with the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine before the tiger officially becomes Mike VI.

The quarantine is a health and safety precaution.

The tiger came from Great Cats of Indiana, a nonprofit, large-animal rescue facility.

The tiger’s arrival was delayed about a week because of fears that Hurricane Dean could have hit Louisiana, Ruffner said.

That delay and the two-week quarantine could be the difference in whether the tiger is prepared for an introduction at LSU’s home football opener against Virginia Tech in 13 days — Sept. 8.

Ruffner said Mike’s veterinarian, David Baker, and his team will decide when the tiger is ready to meet fans.

The vet school will release more information Monday, he said.

‘‘It’s an exotic animal and temperamental, so all sorts of things could be bothersome to it,’’ Ruffner said. ‘‘It’s hard to predict how long it’ll take to get acclimated to the noise and crowds.

‘‘We all have to be patient,’’ he said.

LSU continues to receive complaint calls from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. LSU maintains that the tiger will receive the best care with its elaborate habitat and outstanding veterinary care, Ruffner said.

The tiger’s predecessor, Mike V, died in May of renal failure at LSU at age 17.