Tiger Slams Himself Into Glass After Being Teased By Visitors
Everyone just laughed 💔
As the camera switches on, two young men stand with their backs to the glass wall of a tiger’s enclosure. Noticing them, the cat creeps through the water with his eyes fixed on the men.
The cameraman watches as the giant tiger lurks closer and closer. He whispers for his friends to stand still, knowing the cat will soon go in for the “kill.” In the wild, tigers regularly stalk their prey from behind before pouncing.
Approaching the wall, the cat lingers for a moment, and then smashes his paws and body into the glass trying to jump onto the men. The crowd shrieks in laughter, and the tiger descends back down into the water after pawing at the glass.
Inside a college campus isn’t the ordinary home for a tiger — but it’s everyday life for a big cat named Mike living on display at Louisiana State University (LSU).
Considered the school’s “living mascot,” Mike lives in an enclosure around the corner from the university’s 100,000-plus-seat football stadium, which is regularly packed each fall with rowdy fans. Other days are spent being provoked by visitors, as shown in the recent viral video.
The look on his face after the pounce was one of defeat — and it’s one that’s hitting especially hard for animal advocates like Susan Bass, PR director for Big Cat Rescue.
“It's incredibly sad to see the school using the tiger as entertainment,” Bass told The Dodo. “Mike is displaying his natural instinct to attack ‘prey’ from behind and obviously does not know the barrier is there. He could hurt himself when he flings [himself] full-force against these plexiglass-type walls.”
While Mike is provided with regular care by the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, it’s his life on display with continuous human interaction that’s the main concern.
In sanctuary settings, such as at Big Cat Rescue, visitors are only allowed to approach the animals’ enclosures while on a guided tour with a staff member. This limits people from disrupting or otherwise taunting the animals for the sake of a picture or video.
At the college, the current “Mike the tiger” is the eighth in a row to serve as the football team’s live mascot. The tradition began in 1936 when the college purchased a tiger cub, known as the original “Mike I.” He lived on display at the college and was regularly carted around at games for nearly 20 years.
After his death, the college got him taxidermied to become a permanent display at the university’s Louisiana Museum of Natural History. Every "Mike" after him was towed around in a cage before the football games up until 2017.
In addition to being exposed to so many rowdy fans and visitors, the college’s use of a live tiger has been a safety concern in the past. In 1981, a group of pranksters cut open Mike IV’s enclosure and he was found roaming the campus in the middle of the night. He was tranquilized and returned safely to the enclosure soon after.
With a long lineage of big cats living on the campus, Bass was hopeful the college would discontinue the practice after the death of its last resident “Mike” in 2016. By the next summer, the university had replaced him with its current Mike.
Since the sad incident last week, the video has garnered over 6 million views on Facebook. Bass hopes it will highlight how much these important animals should be respected — and not turned into a spectacle for the sake of views.
The university has since posted reminders on social media telling people to avoid encouraging Mike to jump into the glass by standing too close or bringing pets near the enclosure.
“Big Cat Rescue and many other animal welfare groups were very much against LSU acquiring a new tiger cub last year,” Bass explained. “This video of Mike stalking a visitor demonstrates exactly why we had concerns. LSU is allowing the young, rambunctious tiger to be used as a spectacle for gawking visitors with video cameras.”