The nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund will be in a Baton Rouge courtroom Monday arguing its case in a lawsuit it filed against the state, the Wildlife & Fisheries Commission and Tiger Truck Stop owner Michael Sandlin.
The suit comes after state lawmakers during the spring/summer legislative session grandfathered in Sandlin’s ownership of a 550-pound Siberian-Bengal tiger he keeps in a cage as a roadside attraction at his Grosse Tete business off Interstate 10. The bill, now known as Act 697, came after years of court battles between ALDF and Sandlin — battles the animal rights group repeatedly won and that lead to a state district judge order Wildlife & Fisheries to revoke Sandlin’s permit to keep the tiger.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of former state Rep. Warren Triche Jr., who sponsored a 2006 approved by the Legislature and signed by then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco banning private ownership of large, exotic cats.
From a press release issued by ALDF:
The sole purpose of Act 697 is to allow Sandlin to keep the 14-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger caged in a gas station parking lot by exempting Sandlin from Louisiana’s 2006 ban, a law Sandlin had broken for years. Act 697 undoes legal victories achieved by ALDF on Tony the tiger’s behalf, and retroactively removes protections Tony received under the ban. In a separate lawsuit, the Louisiana courts held that Sandlin’s captivity of Tony violated state law.
“Act 697 violates the Louisiana Constitution and the intent of the 2006 ban, which was passed unanimously by the Louisiana legislature,” said Stephen Wells, executive director for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Louisianans want Tony to live in a reputable sanctuary, not a gas station parking lot—and they don’t want their representatives to hand out special privileges to lawbreakers like the Tiger Truck Stop, which profits from animal suffering.”