IBERVILLE – Officers with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries spent Tuesday reviewing the first legal petition in a decades-long battle to remove Tony the Tiger from an Iberville truck stop.
They will decide whether the tiger will stay or go after the owner, Mike Sandlin, reapplies for a permit to keep the tiger.
The petition comes from the Animal Defense Legal Fund, which says the tiger has been kept for years in inhumane conditions, including a cage that’s too small, a pool that’s not big enough for the tiger to cool itself, too many diesel fumes, way too much noise from traffic, and near-constant taunting from tourists.
Not true, says Sandlin, citing an air-conditioned cage, a grassy area in which Tony can play, and a perch on which he can stand.
“Tony actually recognizes a lot of these customers. He comes out and visits with them and enjoys their company,” Sandlin said.
The group wants Sandlin to send the tiger to an animal sanctuary, something he plans on doing, just not now. Instead, he will wait until the tiger is too old or sick to stay in its current habitat at the truck stop.
Sandlin’s current permit ends December 31. He plans to reapply, and the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says it will re-permit him, as long as he meets the same standards he met last year.