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On July 1, 1956, just a few days after the death of the beloved Mike I, Representative Kenneth Deshotel of St. Landry introduced a resolution in the Louisiana legislature endorsing the purchase of another tiger. Deshotel stated that he hoped the new tiger would be called "Mike II". On campus, the Mike the Tiger Fund was launched by the student body President Enos Parker and fellow students Vic Koepp and John Nunn to purchase, Mike Junior.

Mike II was born on February 28, 1956 and to this day the story of Mike II remains shrouded in mystery. He was selected because his paws were larger than those of any other cub. Mike II arrived secretly on the LSU campus on September 28, 1956. Mike's unveiling occurred the next day, September 29, opening day of the new football season. Academic holiday was declared and the celebrations began.

Legend has it that less than a month after his arrival at LSU, Mike II died of pneumonia at only eight months of age during a six-game losing streak. Reportedly, Mike II was then secretly buried under a willow tree along the Mississippi River. To explain Mike's absence, a statement was issued in the LSU Daily Reveille on October 23 saying that Mike was having trouble adjusting to his enclosure and was therefore being kept inside until he becomes more accustomed to the excitement of being a mascot. Several pieces of evidence support the legend that the original Mike II died and was replaced by another young tiger. Nevertheless, all rumors of the death and replacement of Mike II were denied. The official story was that Mike II had finally adjusted to life as a mascot and that he was in great health. The second Mike II (if indeed there was a "phoney feline") died at Audubon Zoo on May 15, 1958 of complications associated with multiple fractures to his left rear leg.


(from Mike the Tiger The Roar of LSU, Baker and Bivin ©2003)


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