Mike I (1936-56)
In 1934, Athletic Department trainer Chellis “Mike” Chambers, Athletic Director T. P. Heard, Swimming Pool Manager and Intramural Swimming Coach William G. “Hickey” Higginbotham, and LSU law student Ed Laborde decided to bring a real tiger to LSU, then known as the “Ole War Skule.”
They raised $750, collecting 25 cents from each student, and purchased a two-hundred pound, one-year-old tiger from the Little Rock Zoo. The cub was born on October 10, 1935, and was originally named Sheik. His name was changed in honor of Chambers, the man most responsible for bringing him to LSU.
Mike I arrived on campus on October 21, 1936. Mike died on June 29, 1956, of complications associated with kidney disease.
Following Mike’s death, a fund was established to perpetuate his memory by mounting his pelt in a lifelike manner and displaying him at the university’s Louisiana Museum of Natural History, where it remains to this day.