Tiger or Human, We’re All Individuals   2 comments

Reposting from The Animal Legal Defense Fund – June 12, 2019

Tony The Tiger

In early 2017, after learning that Tony the tiger’s health was failing, we requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspect Tony under the Animal Welfare Act. We then submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the inspection report and asked for expedited processing — required under FOIA when delay in providing records “could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual.”

The USDA denied our request because the agency considers only humans to be “individuals.” We filed a lawsuit against the USDA, challenging its narrow interpretation of “individual,” arguing that the term includes nonhuman animals whose life or physical safety is at risk.

Though Tony is gone, our fight on his behalf continues. Today the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in our lawsuit.

Learn more about this case here: https://aldf.org/case/tony-the-tiger-the-individual/

Watch oral arguments in ALDF”S “Tony the Tiger: The Individual” case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit fro June 12, 2019:

 

Animal Legal Defense Fund Director of Litigation Matthew Liebman

NOTE FROM FTTT:
Thank you Matthew and ALDF for continuing to advocate on behalf of Tony and for animals like him.

Tony touched the hearts of so many people all over the world and he will never be forgotten.

I will always be grateful to you and everyone at ALDF for your commitment to Tony and his release to a sanctuary.

I miss Tony and think of him every day. #FreeTonyTiger

🌈♥🐯♥🌈

Revisited: Beyond The Bars   Leave a comment

A local library in New Jersey hosted programs highlighting poetry. A poem written for Tony, “Beyond The Bars” was submitted and used in a program for children. The children then wrote their own poems, and their poetry and artwork were made into a book. A sixth grade student created the artwork for Tony’s poem and I wanted to share it with Tony’s friends. I think she captured the essence of the poem beautifully. I wrote the poem from Tony’s perspective back in 2010. Tony gave a face – a very handsome one – to the issue of captive tigers in the U.S., and the world learned so much from him. He will always be “The Captive Tiger Ambassador.” Tony holds a very special place in my heart ~ I think of him every day.
I miss you ” T ” #FreeTonyTiger #TonyAlways

“Beyond The Bars”

They stare at me
Through rusted bars
But I look past them
And toward the stars

They watch me pace
Endlessly
But in my mind
I am running free

Captor
Look into my eyes
See the blackness
The emptiness inside

Nothing will break
My Spirit – My Will
I hold my head high
A Proud Tiger Still

Thousands like me
Long for peace and respect
To be rescued from prisons
Of abuse and neglect

My body grows tired
After ten long years
Voiceless – Invisible
Tiger Tears

But Striped Hearts Roar
Loud and strong for me
Voices unwavering
Until I am free

Day after day
Faith in “My Stars”
To Be A Tiger
Beyond The Bars

© D. De Santis/FTTT 2010

ALDF Still Fighting For Tony In Court   Leave a comment

From The Animal Legal Defense Fund:

Though Tony is gone, our lawsuit continues. Tony – we haven’t forgotten you, and we won’t stop fighting.

In 2017, when we heard Tony’s health was failing, we asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to inspect him. We submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the inspection report and requested expedited processing, which FOIA requires when delayed disclosure “could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual.”

The USDA denied our request, claiming Tony is not an “individual” – the term only applies to humans. We disagree. We filed a lawsuit against the USDA for failing to expedite the records, arguing Tony, and other animals, are individuals under this law.

Learn more: https://aldf.org/case/tony-the-tiger-the-individual/

Posted February 7, 2019 by Free Tony The Tiger in Uncategorized

☮ Peace ♥ Love & Happy New Year   Leave a comment

To ALL of our friends ~ THANK YOU for your friendship, love and support for our amazing TONY the TIGER who we miss SO MUCH.

I imagine Tony is running and playing in the snow surrounded by festive pine trees…miss you so much ” T ” ~ Thank YOU for teaching us all so much about your world and how important it is for us to find our voice to help animals.

Remembering Tony   Leave a comment

One year ago today we lost our beautiful tiger “friend” Tony. I cannot begin to express how special Tony is to me, and how much I love and miss him. I learned so much from Tony about captive tigers and big cats. Tony inspired me to find my voice and become an advocate not only for him but for other issues regarding animals as well.

I always called Tony “The Ambassador” for captive tigers and big cats – to me he always will be. His story and the serious issue of captive tigers and big cats in the United States was known globally.

Each time I visited Tony I promised him we would never give up on him…and we never did. Tony had friends all over the world who cared about him and supported his
release to a reputable big cat sanctuary. He had an awesome legal team, The Animal Legal Defense Fund, who took on his case back in 2010 and brought it to court in 2011. They still are fighting in Tony’s memory to uphold Louisiana’s Big Cat Ban so no other tigers can be exploited as Tony was for all of his 17 years at Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana. ALDF’s work to protect animals and their rights is so important. Please visit them at aldf.org to learn more about this incredible group of dedicated people who always were there for Tony and to answers all of my questions regarding Tony and his case.

I know we all wished Tony would have had a wonderful sanctuary home, we were so close so many times with the court decisions in Tony’s favor finding the permit issued by LDWF illegal, but sadly appeals caused the case to drag on for years. I like to think that Tony is finally “free” from his concrete and steel bar prison and our majestic striped king is running in tall grass and swimming in crystal blue lakes.

Thank you to these sanctuaries for their support as well:

Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, FL
Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone MN,
The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, CO and
WildCat Ridge Sanctuary in Scotts Mills OR

To ALL of Tony’s amazing friends:
THANK YOU for caring and for your support and love.

We ROARED For Tony…We NEVER Gave Up.

” T ” ~ I will never forget you. Your spirit is with me always. I love you beautiful boy. #FreeTonyTiger

🌈 💙 🐯 💙 🌈

Posted October 16, 2018 by Free Tony The Tiger in Uncategorized

Tribute to My Little Tiger Tony   Leave a comment

Tony Cat supporting ALDF’s #TinyTigers4Tony Campaign

Apologies for the absence…recently I lost my own “little tiger” ~ my beautiful cat coincidentally named Tony. Back in 2008 a very good friend found Tony Cat’s adoption article in a local newspaper, (he was already named Tony by the shelter.) I read Tony’s story and once again felt fate brought me a very special boy. I adopted Tony Cat on September 3, 2008 and we shared almost 10 years together. I was truly blessed to know and share a life with this kind gentle soul. I like to believe my Tony Cat is with his “big cousin,” our beloved Tony the Tiger.

There is not a day that goes by where I don’t think of Tony the Tiger…I love this tiger and I’m so thankful I got to visit him and tell him how much he was loved by his friends and how hard we were all trying to help him. What a beautiful, majestic boy. Tony truly was and always will be the ambassador for captive tigers – he was known world-wide, and raised tremendous awareness to the issue. I’m sorry Tony never got a wonderful sanctuary home.

If you haven’t done so, please sign Animal Legal Defense Fund‘s petition to Tiger Truck Stop owner Michael Sandlin at: https://act.aldf.org/page/6167/petition/1

If you ever visited Tony and have pictures you’d like to share please e-mail freetonythetiger17@gmail.com

One again thank you for your support and understanding.

Camel now at famed truck stop outside Baton Rouge, but owner in fierce fight for another tiger   Leave a comment

From Animal Legal Defense Fund:

“No wild animal deserves to follow in (Tony’s) steps. An environment like a truck stop with loud noises and gas fumes completely fails to meet any wild animal’s mental and physical needs” – Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells

Our legal battle to prevent the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop from obtaining another tiger continues. In the meantime, we are closely monitoring any developments at the Louisiana truck stop.

To read more about our work to uphold Louisiana’s Big Cat Ban, head to: https://aldf.org/case/upholding-lousianas-big-cat-ban/

Direct Link to Following Article: https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/article_d1c42178-8d1c-11e8-b617-7f0c185d8cfe.html

Camel now at famed truck stop outside Baton Rouge, but owner in fierce fight for another tiger
BY LEA SKENE | lskene@theadvocate.com

Caspar the camel has taken the place of Tony the tiger — for now.

With state laws preventing him from obtaining another exotic cat after Tony’s death in October, the owner of a landmark Iberville Parish truck stop says he intends to continue fighting for what he considers the tiger’s rightful successor. Animal rights groups have expressed adamant opposition, and the conflict is playing out in court.

In the meantime, Michael Sandlin has settled for Caspar, who was moved into Tony’s old enclosure earlier this week. Sandlin said the camel is five months old but is nonetheless large because “they grow up fast.”

The camel came with another baby exotic animal: a coati, which is a member of the raccoon family native to South and Central America. His name is Cody and he’s two months old.

Sandlin said he might bring in more animals in the coming months as he is considering expanding his facilities and creating a petting zoo attraction for children, starting with “Caspar the friendly white camel.”

A 2006 state law bans private ownership of large and exotic cats but Tony was grandfathered in because he had been living at the truck stop since 2001.

In addition to giving people more reason to visit the truck stop, Sandlin said, the new animals at his site send a message to the groups that he believes have unfairly targeted him with false accusations surrounding the living conditions of his tiger exhibit, which opened in 1984.

“I think this shows that we’re not quitters and that we don’t just let the state or anyone else come in and run over us,” Sandlin said. “I hate to see that exhibit sitting empty when there could be something there for people to enjoy. … I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world — seeing the excitement on children’s faces when they get up close and personal with these animals.”

But the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a national organization that has taken the lead in legal opposition to Sandlin’s tiger exhibit, said replacing one animal with another doesn’t solve the problem.

“No wild animal deserves to follow in (Tony’s) steps,” Executive Director Stephen Wells said in a statement on Saturday. “Wild animals do not belong in captivity. An environment like a truck stop with loud noises and gas fumes completely fails to meet any wild animal’s mental and physical needs.”

Tony was euthanized in October at age 17 after experiencing kidney failure. He had moved to the truck stop when he was six months old and spent the rest of his life there. Tigers typically live between 14 and 18 years in captivity.

Sandlin spoke heatedly in an interview Saturday and firmly disputed the claims that Tony experienced a poor quality of life because of where he lived.

“Are we going to start taking people’s children away if they don’t live in a mansion?” he said, acknowledging the differences between Tony’s enclosure and LSU’s tiger habitat while challenging the idea that one is humane and the other isn’t.

Sandlin said the advocates fighting him in court are taking their arguments too far without reasonable consideration of the animals they purport to defend — arguments that members of the public and state legislators have taken to heart.

“I resent living in this state that turns small business owners into criminals overnight and tries to take their personal property without compensation,” he said. “I feel it’s tyrannical and hypocritical, and I resent that.”

A state judge is set to rule in coming months on the legality of Louisiana’s big cat ban in response to a lawsuit from Sandlin, which holds that the ban is unconstitutional. Attorneys for the state and the Animal Legal Defense Fund maintain it’s legal. The 2006 law forbids anyone other than colleges, sanctuaries, zoos, wildlife research centers and scientific organizations from possessing big exotic cats.

At a hearing in April, Sandlin’s attorneys argued that Sandlin is “the true sanctuary” because “it’s not for economic reasons at all. He has a true love for these animals.”

That case is the latest of several over the past decade as animal rights groups sought to get Tony removed from the truck stop because they believed he wasn’t receiving adequate care.

Sandlin is hopeful the judge will rule in his favor. But he is also willing to branch out with other animals in the meantime, in part to maintain his license that allows him to keep exotic animals of any kind.

Sandlin said Caspar is a name of Persian origin that means “keeper of the treasure” — which he said could refer to the camel’s role in holding down the tiger enclosure until the business is graced with another striped predator.

“There was a lot of love and community here and I find it’s tragic that for the first time in 30 years, there’s not tiger living in Grosse Tete. But I have not given up and I’m hoping that this situation will be corrected,” Sandlin said. “It’s still Tiger Truck Stop, not camel truck stop.”

More Links:

Baton Rouge judge to rule on state’s big cat ban as Grosse Tete truck stop pushes for new tiger

Truck stop owner plans to pursue another tiger, stuff Tony for display; critic calls that ‘disrespectful’

Tony, the Grosse Tete truck stop tiger, euthanized after spending 17 years as roadside attraction

Are big cats ‘individuals’? Animal rights group fighting for records in truck stop tiger case

%d bloggers like this: