Vet: LSU's tiger mascot has 1-2 months to live with cancer

FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2007, file photo, LSU mascot Mike VI, a part Bengal and Siberian tiger, sits in his cage on the field for his first time before an NCAA college football game between LSU and Florida in Baton Rouge, La. Cancer found in the skull of Louisiana State University's live tiger mascot has spread. The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine announced that a CT scan and physical exam of the tiger, Mike VI, shows the tumor in his skull has grown and his cancer has spread. The school scheduled a press briefing Wednesday to discuss the tiger's prognosis. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

BATON ROUGE, La. - Louisiana State University's tiger mascot has an estimated one to two months to live, now that a rare form of cancer has spread across its body, a school veterinarian said Wednesday.

Dr. David Baker, of the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, said a tumour found earlier this year in the tiger's skull has grown despite radiation treatment. A CT scan and physical exam of Mike VI on Monday showed its cancer has spread to the base of its neck, its lungs and right leg.

"All of these findings carry a very grave prognosis," Baker said. "Our current plan is to give the LSU community time to say their goodbyes to Mike. He will be turned out in his yard each day as usual, so long as his condition allows."

Baker said Mike will be euthanized when the time comes, to prevent the animal from suffering.

"Right now, his behaviour and attitude are very normal. I tell people he doesn't know how sick he is," Baker said.

Baker also said LSU has asked him to begin searching animal rescue facilities for a Mike VII.

"We intend to obtain a young male tiger in need of a good home," he added. "So many of these facilities take on perhaps more animals really than they can manage."

LSU announced in May that the tiger had been diagnosed with a rare and inoperable form of cancer. At the time, veterinarians said treating its spindle cell sarcoma with radiation therapy could extend the 10-year-old tiger's life by one or two more years.

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

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

LSU says Mike is one of only two live tiger college mascots in the U.S. and the only one living on a college campus.

Baker said LSU's athletic department has covered the costs of Mike's cancer treatment, but he said he didn't have a dollar estimate.

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