(WBRZ News 2) It's been less than a year since Mike VII arrived on campus, but visitors at his enclosure have already dubbed him the most playful tiger, mostly because of encounters like the one that went viral over the weekend.
This video of Mike the Tiger pouncing towards a man caused everyone to want to experience it for themselves. Ginger Guttner with the LSU Vet School explained what's going on here.
"He's an ambush predator, so they tend to attack from the back, so when people turn their backs to the glass, it does make him want to do that," said Guttner.
When Mike first got to campus, he was only 11 months old. His playful, cub behavior prompted his caretakers to put up signs warning visitors to keep pets and stuffed animals away from him and not to do anything that's going to possibly make him hit the fence or the glass, because Mike could hurt himself.
"It's not about breaking a rule, it's more about what's best for the tiger," said Guttner.
According to Guttner, when he jumps up onto the glass, he risks breaking a tooth--causing him to be unable to eat and probably resulting in expensive dental surgery.
"Tooth loss is the number one cause of death for tigers in the wild," said Guttner.
She doesn't want to discourage visitors from enjoying the adolescent tiger, just to stop trying to get him to jump on the glass.
"Mike likes to engage with his visitors, which we want to happen. We want people to go to the habitat and enjoy being around Mike, but there are certain things that people can do when they think they're playing with him that actually could cause him to do harm to himself, and those are the things that we want to avoid."