This tiger statue stands in front of the ADM  middle/high school brought in 2020 provided by the ADM Alumni Association.
This tiger statue stands in front of the ADM middle/high school brought in 2020 provided by the ADM Alumni Association.

What Does It Take to Get a Real Tiger on the Field?

The tiger is one of the most popular mascots for schools across the country, whether it is a huge university or a small-town high school like ours. One large university is very popular for its success in athletics. Iowa fans know this school too well after facing these tigers in the Women’s Basketball National Championship game last year. While you may recognize the name of this college as Louisiana State University, they are better known as the LSU Tigers.

Now, there is a reason I bring this specific school into conversation and not any other across America. For the most part, LSU just has a regular guy in a tiger suit just like we do; however, on occasion, they forget about the mascot and bring out the real deal. This special mascot is a live tiger named Mike. This tradition started in 1936, a year after Mike was born. To get this idea going, the student body raised money to buy Mike from Little Rock Zoo for $750. According to LSU’s official athletics website, the tiger was originally named “Sheik” but it was changed to honor Mike Chambers, the athletic director when the first real tiger was purchased. 

Now, there is a question that needs to be answered. Why can LSU have a live tiger at their football games and ADM can’t? While it would be amazing and would make the statement of the year, here’s why:

Obviously, years have passed since the first Mike and new Mikes have come along and through the process, these mascots have lived pretty lavishly. The current Mike, Mike VII, who was brought to campus in 2017, lives in a large habitat on campus which has recently been enhanced by a new pool, a comfort rock, improved water features and a rockwork tree. Unfortunately, Adel doesn’t have the capacity to make this habitat work.

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I reached out to ADM’s superintendent Greg Dufoe to hear his thoughts on the subject. I asked him why LSU has a live tiger mascot on the field but we can’t. He said, “The answer to this question would include several things, including a large university like LSU having the funds to make something like this happen. The other would be safety, of course.” He also made a very valid point. He asked me if anyone had ever even asked for a live tiger mascot.

Having a real tiger on the field on Friday nights would exponentially increase crowd engagement, so if anyone is willing to make this happen, you might want to think about making an appearance at the next school board meeting.

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