From 2The Advocate: Group Wants Tiger Moved   3 comments

Activists contest truck-stop permits

Tony, a Siberian-Bengal tiger, moves inside his cage at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete in December. The Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the state Monday seeking to have the tiger moved to a wildlife sanctuary. Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS shot on 12-2-10.

  • Advocate Westside bureau
  • Published: Apr 12, 2011 – Page: 1B
  • An animal rights group fighting to have a tiger removed from its truck stop home in Grosse Tete sued the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries on Monday in state District Court in Baton Rouge.

    The lawsuit, filed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, references Act 715, a state law enacted in 2006 that prohibits the private ownership of large and exotic cats.

    The law makes a “grandfather” exception allowing people to keep exotic cats as pets as long as the animals were legally owned before Aug. 15, 2006, when the law went into effect, the lawsuit says.

    Matthew Liebman, an attorney for the animal-rights group, said the key words are “legally owned.”

    The group recognizes that Tiger Truck Stop owner Michael Sandlin owned Tony, a 550-pound Siberian-Bengal mix, prior to the law taking effect.

    Liebman, however, said the 10-year-old tiger wasn’t owned legally because of an Iberville Parish ordinance enacted in 1993 prohibiting anyone from owning “wild, exotic or vicious animals for display or for exhibition.”

    Therefore, Sandlin was ineligible to receive the “grandfather” permits Wildlife and Fisheries issued to him in December 2009 and December 2010 because Tiger Truck Stop was in violation of the parish ordinance, Liebman said.

    The animal-rights group filed the lawsuit to compel the state to revoke Tiger Truck Stop’s permits, Liebman said.

    That action would prompt the tiger to be placed in a wildlife sanctuary, “in much better conditions and away from the truck stop’s diesel fumes,” Liebman said.

    Sandlin did not return messages seeking comment Monday evening.

    Wildlife and Fisheries spokesman Bo Boehringer said the agency’s legal department had not yet seen a copy of the lawsuit Monday and the agency could not comment on it.

    Warren Triche Jr., a former Democratic Party state representative between 1988 and 2008, is named as one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

    Triche said he authored the bill making it illegal to own exotic animals in the state for the health and safety of the public and the animals.

    Tony is the last privately owned big and exotic cat in the state,  Boehringer has 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, Boehringer said.

    3 responses to “From 2The Advocate: Group Wants Tiger Moved

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    1. I was one of the 40,000 that signed for Tony’s freedom last year,unfortunately ,the wild life and fisheries granted Mr.Sandlans,the permit,I think from videos I have seen of Tony as a cub Mr .Sandlans and his family did love and care for him,but it is time to let him go ,he has been confind to that cement box for 10 years,he is isolated and lonely,Mr.Sandlan should be thinking what is best for Tony now ,and that is the nice sanctuary that was promised to him last year,-please free him.

    2. Awesome news! I’m so thrilled I can’t help myself not to quote Charlie Sheen: “Winning!!!!” 🙂 Tony will be free soon! The wheels are in motion! We love you Tony!

    3. The ignorant comments posted on that article prove how too many people still don’t get it. They want to believe this is about taking someone’s right away . . . IF Tony lived in a more natural habitat, EVEN AT that location, PERHAPS him being there would not be such a hot topic.

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