From FTTT: It is with deep sadness and disappointment to report that the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries renewed their permit to Tony’s “owner” Michael Sandlin on December 14, 2010. Please visit the link for the article from The Advocate http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/latest/112048634.html and post your comments there to continue to show your support and objections to the renewal.
This is truly disappointing and heartbreaking, but it cannot and will not stop us. We must continue our fight for Tony and work towards relocating him to an accredited big cat sanctuary where Tony will have the home, life, care and respect he deserves. Please don’t give up on Tony.
State: Truck stop can continue live tiger exhibit
Despite a strong push from animal-rights activists, the state has granted a truck stop owner a permit allowing him to continue exhibiting a live tiger as a roadside attraction at his Grosse Tete business.
The permit issued by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries allows Tiger Truck Stop to keep Tony, a 10-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger, on display throughout 2011.
Tony is the last privately owned big and exotic cat in the state, Wildlife and Fisheries press secretary Bo Boehringer said Thursday.
The permit was required after a 2006 legislative action gave regulatory authority over private ownership of potentially dangerous animals to Wildlife and Fisheries, Boehringer said.
The legislation prohibited private ownership of big cats, but allowed people who already owned the animals before 2006 to be “grandfathered” as long as they went through a permit process to keep their animals, state officials have said.
There were four privately owned tigers living in the state when the Legislature acted in 2006, Boehringer said.
The owners of three of those tigers opted to have the cats moved to Wild Animal Orphanage in San Antonio, he said.
Tiger Truck Stop owner Michael Sandlin opted to keep Tony at his business and go through the permitting process, Boehringer said.
Sandlin had until this month to provide the state with proof of liability insurance, a written plan detailing emergency steps to take in case the tiger escapes and a health certificate from a licensed veterinarian, Wildlife and Fisheries records show.
Agency officials last made an unannounced visit to check on the tiger’s welfare on Dec. 9, Boehringer said.
The agency will continue the surprise visits throughout 2011 to ensure the tiger is healthy and has adequate food and water, he said.
The issuing of the permit comes about a month after animal-rights activists began ramping up efforts to have the tiger removed from the truck stop and placed in a sanctuary specializing in caring for big cats.
Throughout November, activists have been posting messages on blogs, calling on the public to petition the state not to renew the permit.
On Nov. 12, animal-rights activists sparred with Sandlin over Tony’s captivity on the CNN news program “Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell.”
The next day, activists posted a picture on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Facebook page. The picture shows the tiger displayed on a video board in Times Square in New York City with the caption: “Tiger Truck Stop Continues to Fuel Public Outrage.”
Nine days later, the Animal Legal Defense Fund started an online petition to keep the permit from being renewed.
On Dec. 2, Mary Haik, an advocate for the tiger, made an impassioned plea to Wildlife and Fisheries commissioners asking them, to no avail, to intervene in the matter.
The tiger also gained some notoriety this summer when internationally known animal-rights activist Anthony Marr paid the tiger a visit during his six-month “Compassion for Animals Road Expedition.”
Standing outside the tiger’s cage, Marr called Tony’s captivity “shameful,” adding that it is a “blight on the face of Louisiana.”
Sandlin, the truck stop owner, could not be reached by phone for comment Thursday, but has said in the past that Tony is well cared for, healthy and happy.
Sandlin has also said he will consider placing Tony in an animal sanctuary as the tiger ages.
“This is the only home Tony has ever known,” Sandlin has said.
Once again the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has shown their lack of concern for Tony’s health, welfare and LIFE by renewing this permit to Mr. Sandlin. While this is wrong on so many levels, politically, legally, ethically and morally – a fact that cannot be denied is: A TIGER – an apex predator – is being exploited at a truck stop. How can anyone believe this is acceptable, let alone a proper environment for this tiger? What about public safety? The LDWF was petitioned by the Animal Legal Defense Fund who presented a very strong case on behalf of Tony which included expert statements testifying to the detrimental effects physically and mentally to Tony by keeping him at the truck stop. Legal issues, such as Tony being illegally owned per the 1993 Iberville Parish ordinance, were addressed as well. Still the LDWF chose to ignore this as well as the pleas and concerns from people all over the world for Tony and issue the permit. This whole situation is truly disturbing, especially when Mr. Sandlin has stated in a previous Advocate article: “Sandlin said he will consider moving Tony to an animal sanctuary only when the 10-year-old tiger gets too old or too sick to be exhibited.” Captive tigers with proper care can live 15 to 20 years – how many years does Tony have left after living all of his 10 years at the truck stop with inadequate care, an improper habitat, and the constant noise and fumes from trucks and cars 24/7? This permit renewal by no means deters Tony’s supporters from continuing to advocate for him, his relocation to an accredited sanctuary, and for the life, care and respect Tony deserves.