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Mike VII handlers ask visitors to leave stuffed animals, pets at home

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BATON ROUGE - Plush versions of Mike VII have been flying off of shelves at the LSU Sports Shop, but now Mike's handlers are asking the public not to bring them near the habitat.

"We didn't realize that stuffed animals were an issue," said the Walker family, who had just purchased three stuffed Mikes.

Since Mike is still a cub, he is extremely playful and reacts to everything around him.

"Actually I've seen him -- just a few days ago -- he was playing with a little kid, so I can imagine for an animal it would be a lot different," said student Kayla Yarborough.

Mike's handlers are worried about the young tiger reacting to the stuffed animals in a way that could harm him. He could possibly chip a tooth on his glass enclosure -- which can be disastrous for tigers, interfering with their eating and even causing death.

"He's still a baby and we don't want to upset him, so we don't want to make him mad. He's cute, we love him, he's adorable," said the Walkers.

Another concern — dogs. Signs saying 'NO PETS' have been around for years, but some dog owners claim to have never seen them.

"It's the first time that we've seen the no pets sign," said Chelsea Haskew, who was walking her dog Duke. "I completely understand where they're coming from, so we won't bring Duke by Mike's cage again."

A lot of Mike's visitors agreed that the rules were in his best interest.

"I think it's something that everybody should be cautious about. I mean he is a wild animal," said the Walkers.

No word on if his handler's plan on enforcing the new rule, but they are asking the public to inform people who bring pets or stuffed animals near the enclosure.


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