This story was written in conjunction with The Reveille. Click here to read The Reveille's coverage.
Mike the Tiger’s habitat is a favorite visiting site amongst the Baton Rouge community, but due to recent events, a barricade was placed around his cage.
Officials set up the barricade one day after the Bronx Zoo in New York City announced one of their tigers, 4-year-old Nadia, tested positive for COVID-19. This is the first instance of a tiger contracting the virus.
A zoo employee “asymptomatically infected with the virus” infected Nadia, according to CNN.
It is still unknown how the virus affects animals and how exactly it spreads.
The LSU School of Veterinary wasted no time in taking extra precautions for Mike VII.
Communications Manager of LSU’s School of Veterinary Medicine Ginger Guttner states, “4 feet is not what’s prescribed as far as social distancing, they want at least six. So we asked LSU to put up barricades just to give a little more distance.”
The university implemented a Standard Operating Procedure several weeks ago, whereby caretakers stopped all direct contact with the tiger, according to Guttner.
Sociology second-year student Samantha Slaton, who hopes to study veterinary medicine in the future, says she is happy to hear Mike’s caretakers are being proactive.
“There’s still so much that we don’t know when it comes to the coronavirus,” Slaton said. “So I’m glad that we’re taking these extra steps to keep Mike happy and healthy.”
While these extra barricades are a great addition to keeping Mike safe, Guttner urges everyone who visits to show proper social distancing.
Guttner says, “ If you feel you do have to go out and see him just use social distancing. Wear a mask and be respectful of other people around you who might be there.”
Mike’s fans can keep up with him on social media as well as the Tiger Cam, which provides a live video feed of his habit.
Although the barricades will remain up for the time being, Guttner does not foresee any long term changes to Mike’s habitat or how people conduct visits with LSU’s live mascot.