Roar For Tony Day 49!
Dum spiro, spero – “While I breathe, I hope.”
While we all hope and continue to fight for Tony’s freedom, unfortunately it is a constant game of waiting for us, but more importantly – TONY WAITS and CONTINUES TO SUFFER. Without a proper habitat or care, without any kind of enrichment whatsoever, Tony sleeps and paces his life away while ignorance and greed dictate his sole being.
Do those (LDW&F, Iberville Parish Council, etc.) who can make a difference in his life care or realize they hold his fate, his life in their hands? Why is Tony’s situation looked upon with such blatant disregard for his health and welfare? Why do they think exploiting a tiger as a roadside attraction at a truck stop is acceptable?
According to the sign posted on his cage, Tony was born in July 2000 which will make him 10 years old this July.
Captive tigers with the proper habitat, medical care, diet and enrichment can live 15 to 20 years, Tony has lived at the truck stop for nearly 10 years. It is imperative that something be done NOW so Tony can have some quality of life and live in a peaceful well-cared for home before it’s too late.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries issued their permit to Tony’s owner on December 14th, 2009 but it was not made public until December 29th, 2009. I wrote to the LDW&F immediately following their decision and finally, on May 3rd, 2010, received a “canned” response from them as did many others who voiced their objections to their decision and their concerns for Tony.
What follows is my response to their letter. The individuals and agencies involved need to put aside “the politics” and look at the most important factor – Tony’s welfare. How simple it would be if they realized how ludicrous it is to use a tiger as a gimmick at a truck stop, the dangers (especially to the public) of keeping such an animal, and the adverse effects on Tony’s health being kept in such confinement. How hard is it “to do the right thing??” If they could see any of this, if they CARED, Tony would have the life he deserves at a sanctuary.
I will never give up on Tony, and I envision the day this beautiful tiger will know the true meaning of what it’s like to be the magnificent cat he is.
This letter is in response to an email I received from Ms. Davidson of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries on May 3, 2010 regarding Tony The Truck Stop Tiger.
Public Letter to Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Elected Officials of Louisiana, Iberville Parish Council:
As an animal lover, with a passion for tigers, the story of Tony the Truck Stop Tiger, a 9 year old tiger who is used as a roadside attraction in Grosse Tete, Louisiana, breaks my heart as well as infuriates me.
I continue to contact elected officials of Louisiana and Iberville Parish, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, USDA, animal welfare organizations and anyone else I feel can help Tony.
I recently received an email reply from Maria Davidson, Large Carnivore Manager for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. It was your standard “canned” response and it is being sent out to individuals who inquire about Tony.
If their goal is to quell our concerns for Tony and hope we will quietly go away, I can assure them that is not going to happen. No matter how they try to explain, justify, or put their “spin” on it – there is no reason to have a tiger at a truck stop, especially when there are accredited big cat sanctuaries that will take Tony and give him the proper home, care, diet, enrichment and respect he deserves.
Look at the real issue here: a tiger at a truck stop on display 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – individuals taunting Tony and a sign to remind them not to throw objects at him. The noise and fumes of cars and trucks are what Tony hears and breathes every day. It is clearly obvious and just common sense that this is a not a healthy, humane, nor acceptable environment for Tony. What makes this even more disturbing are the authorities involved, the USDA, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and The Iberville Parish Council. They can end this display of animal cruelty but allow it to continue. To permit Tony to suffer and waste away at the truck stop is in itself a cruel and inhumane act.
A 1993 Iberville Parish ordinance prohibited private ownership and display of exotic animals such as tigers. Why was this ordinance never enforced? The Iberville Parish Council conveniently amended the ordinance on March 19, 2009 to allow ONE individual, Michael Sandlin, to privately own and display a tiger. I find this highly unethical. Why did Mr. Sandlin receive such preferential treatment?
If you read the amended ordinance, you will see it is specifically written for Mr. Sandlin. http://freetonythetiger.weebly.com/amended-ordinance.html
There was a glimmer of hope when in August 2009 Maria Davidson stated: “It is the Department’s position that private possession of tigers poses a significant hazard to public safety and is detrimental to the health of the animal. Prolonged confinement is by its nature stressful to tigers and proper long-term care by experienced persons is essential to the health of the animal.” Source: http://www.examiner.com/x-16570-New-Orleans-Pet-Rescue-Scene-Examiner~y2009m8d16-Followup-on-Tony-the-Tiger-in-Grosse-Tete Sadly the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries granted a license to Mr. Sandlin on December 14, 2009.
Tony’s health, safety, welfare and quality of life are what should be paramount in this whole matter. It is disturbing to know that only the minimum basic requirements need be filled in order for his owner to keep Tony, and I highly doubt his owner is even providing that, especially with the recent observation of an animal advocate who has seen Tony numerous times and reported his enclosure in deplorable conditions and Tony’s loss of weight.
The town of Grosse Tete, Iberville Parish, the state of Louisiana, and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries are being looked upon with disdain and disgust as they allow this blatant display of animal cruelty to continue.
Tony will be 10 years old in July. A captive tiger’s lifespan with the proper medical care, diet, habitat and enrichment is 15 to 20 years. Tony has lived almost 10 years at a truck stop, not what I would deem a suitable environment for such a majestic cat or any animal. Something must be done NOW to give Tony a quality life before it’s too late. I and many others will continue to be a strong voice for Tony and fight for his release from the truck stop.