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Thursday, September 20, 2007
Mike VI still adjusting to weather, won't debut Saturday

Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Baton Rouge is still too hot for Louisiana State University's new tiger mascot, so his heralded football debut will wait for a night game in two weeks.

Veterinarian David Baker had felt Mike VI was doing well enough with crowds to have his cage rolled into Tiger Stadium during pregame ceremonies.

But since then he has decided that Mike VI, which grew up at a sanctuary in northern Indiana about 90 miles southeast of Chicago, is having trouble with the steamy southern Louisiana heat.

"He's panting more than Mike V did," said Ginger Guttner, spokeswoman for LSU School of Veterinary Medicine.

Baker thinks heat may be why Mike VI is spending so much time in his pool, Guttner said. South Carolina's visit is a day game, so Baker decided Mike's debut should be delayed at least until the University of Florida game in two weeks, she said.

"A day game would just be too hot right now," she said.

Mike's health is otherwise fine, Guttner said.

The 2-year-old Mike VI, a Bengal-Siberian mix, weighs just more than 300 pounds and could grow to 700 pounds, according to a Web page for Great Cats of Indiana, the Idaville sanctuary where he was bred.

Although Siberian tigers are adapted for cold weather, Baker doesn't think that's the reason for his difficulty with the heat, Guttner said.

Mike V, a 370-pound Bengal-Indochinese mix, died in May of kidney failure.