Ribbon-cutting officially opens Mike's crib

Although Mike the Tiger, LSU's Bengal tiger mascot, moved in to his new habitat on August 26, Thursday marked the official welcoming to his new home.

Thursday's ribbon cutting ceremony marked the official opening of Mike's new habitat. The original ceremony was set for August 29, but was pushed back due to Hurricane Katrina.

Numerous members of the LSU community were on hand for the induction, including Chancellor Sean O'Keefe, Athletic Director Skip Bertman, and Former LSU Chancellor Mark Emmert and his wife Delaine.

"Mike the Tigers represents all that is great and good about LSU," Bertman said.

Bertman said over 100,000 people visit Mike the Tiger's cage each year. The new habitat consists of 15,000 square feet and features grass, a waterfall, and a lake. The previous cage was only 2,000 square feet.

This summer, the Athletic Department has undertaken construction projects on Tiger Stadium, the Football Operations Building, and the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, but Bertman said the new habitat was the most crucial.

"All of those things and other great construction on this beautiful campus do not have the one thing this project has," he said. "None will touch the sphere of people the Tiger Habitat will touch."

The ribbon cutting ceremony also marked the return of Former LSU Chancellor Mark Emmert and his wife Delaine. The Emmerts left Baton Rouge last March after Mark accepted the position of President at the University of Washington.

Delaine Emmert helped lead the "I Like Mike" campaign, an effort to raise the $2.9 million for the new habitat. The project was solely funded by private donations through the Tiger Athletic Foundation.

"Our dream was for Mike to represent the University in a first class way," Delaine said.

She added that while she misses living in Baton Rouge, she is excited about the completion of Mike's new environment.

"I am really giddy," she said. "I am so happy."

Delaine thanked everybody who contributed to the campaign, from making donations to the Tiger Athletic Foundation, to purchasing an engraved brick outside of the habitat.

She recalled meeting children who wanted to donate nickels and pennies to help with the campaign.

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