A wide-open search is on at LSU to find the school’s next live Bengal tiger mascot.
Mike V died earlier this month, setting off the first mascot hunt since 1990, when the tiger arrived at the university as a 4-month-old cub.
Dr. David Baker, director of laboratory animal medicine at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine and the mascot’s chief caretaker, said the journey could take LSU “anywhere there’s an airport.”
One item the winner will have to possess is the right personality.
“These animals are very difficult to work with, very difficult to care for, because you can’t just take them out of their enclosure and examine them,” Baker said at the news conference to announce Mike V’s death.
“The better the personality, the easier it is to provide excellent care.”
Baker said the search could choose a cub or an adolescent tiger. The hunt might not be difficult.
There should be plenty of tigers available, said Joe Forys, assistant curator of mammals for the Audubon Zoo. Forys said that although Bengal tigers are an endangered species — about 4,000 remain in the wild — there are between 10,000 and 15,000 tigers in captivity in the U.S.
Because of its liberal laws concerning exotic animal trade, Texas is a likely source, Forys said.
“It’s probably not going to be very hard to find one,” Forys said.
“You can go to just about any big city in Texas, and if they aren’t in the paper you can look online in classifieds and find big cats and various kinds of hoof stock for sale.”
Forys said tiger cubs can go from $1,500 to $10,000 each, depending upon color.