Why did this tiger become an internet celebrity?

Mike Tiger is the real-life Siberian-Bengal mascot of the LSU Tigers, often seen between Tiger Stadium and the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He also likes to do silly things sometimes.

On March 2, former college basketball coach Lance Loya shared a video that has now gone viral (almost 4 million views on Facebook as of Saturday), The big cat can be seen splashing around in the water in its habitat. Visitors can check on him on a glass panel. One visitor in particular – a young boy, was clearly delighted by Mike’s antics.

“Recently on LSU’s campus, this young fan was seen interacting with LSU’s mascot, ‘Mike’ the Tiger,” Loya said. “Can’t decide whether this says more about the boy’s fearlessness or his parents’ confidence in the fence’s design.”

In fact, that thin piece of glass does separate the toddler from the extremely powerful claws. According to BBC Science Focus, the power of the claws can kill a person instantly.

According to the LSU Tiger Athletic Foundation, former LSU athletic department coach Chellis “Mike” Chambers came up with the idea of ​​purchasing a real tiger in 1934. He gathered a group of people, raised $750, and Tiger arrived in 1936. Mike I played for LSU and served as the school’s mascot until his death from kidney disease in 1956.

Since then, the school has welcomed several new “Mike” Tigers to follow in his footsteps. In 2005, a $3.7 million 15,000-square-foot environment was built as Mike V’s new home. In 2017, Florida’s Wild at Heart Wildlife Center donated current mascot Mike VII to the school.

Loya said in a blog post that he captured the interaction between the tiger and the toddler last month. He said he was shocked by the boy’s fearlessness.

“I think this interaction is a unique calvin and hobbes— like an exchange between a sweet, innocent child and a curious tiger,” the coach explained. “I made this video just to show my wife what I was witnessing. “

He also said that the experience of becoming popular has taught him new knowledge about how to be a good teammate.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images

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