Mike VI, the live tiger mascot of LSU, has been a part of the community since 2007. We spoke with Ginger Guttner, the director of public relations for the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, via email about Mike’s social media presence. With posts of meat in the shape of sports opponents’ mascots and some witty photo captions, there was plenty to talk about.
How do you decide which photos of Mike to post?
The majority of the photos and videos are taken by Mike’s veterinary student caretakers (he has two of them who work with him as a team for two years); I also take some of the photos and videos. It’s hard to take a bad photo of Mike (since he’s so handsome), so the selection process is pretty easy.
Who creates the mascots made out of meat that you post on Instagram before LSU sports?
The meat art is prepared by Mike’s veterinary student caretakers. It began two years ago with Trevor Davis and Lindsey Clemones, with Trevor doing most of it; he and Lindsey graduated from the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine in May 2016. His two new veterinary student caretakers want to continue the tradition and did a great job for the LSU Baseball Super Regional.
How did Mike’s recent diagnosis shape the way you represented him on social media?
Mike’s social media tone is usually very fun and playful, but with the cancer diagnosis, we decided to be a little more serious so any posts related to his diagnosis were done in third-person. Social media provides a great way to let fans know how Mike is doing, and it gives fans a way to express their love and concern for him.
What’s it like working with a live tiger every day?
I don’t work with Mike every day, but I do see him a few times a week. One of my most favorite things is when he comes right up to where I’m standing at the habitat and chuffs at me (it’s a greeting).
How do you get the best shots of Mike? Does it take a few tries?
The habitat was designed to give visitors an up-close look at Mike, so it’s easy to get great photos of him. The glass is especially great because it allows you to get unobstructed pictures of him.
What’s Mike’s favorite hashtag?
People can use #MikeVI when referencing him.
What’s your favorite social media post you’ve done as Mike?
I have two. The first was a side view of him, and the post was, “Do these stripes make me look fat?” It was intended to be silly, but it started a discussion about Mike’s weight and his diet, so it ended up educating people. The second was one taken after he had destroyed a bush in his habitat, and it looks like Lindsey, one of his veterinary student caretakers, is fussing at him; the post was, “This is why we can’t have nice things.”
Photos via Mike’s Instagram.