Janet Mcconnaughey, Associated Press Updated 8:09 pm, Thursday, April 13, 2017
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Video and photos suggest a tiger kept at a Baton Rouge-area truck stop may be ill, an animal rights group says.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate and ensure that Tony the tiger is getting proper care. A veterinarian has said a private investigator’s photos and video show a limp and spinal curvature, and a web posting in February said the tiger had diarrhea, attorney Matthew Liebman said Thursday.
The owner of the Grosse Tete Truck Stop, Michael Sandlin, denies that Tony is suffering. He says the tiger is seen regularly by a veterinarian, limps from arthritis and only has loose stools after he gets anti-worm medicine.
“He is not sick. He’s simply an old man with some arthritis,” Sandlin said.
At 17, Tony is indeed old for a tiger. Tigers typically live 14 to 18 years in captivity, according to veterinarian David Baker of the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine.
Like people with arthritis, Sandlin said, Tony wakes up a bit stiff and loosens up during the day. He lives in a cage with a grassy area, a large water tank to swim in, a hanging tire and other toys.
“We just want to make him as comfortable as we can and we don’t want him to be in pain. That’s what the medication is for,” he said.
Sandlin said he has asked the vet to check Tony again because of the concern about his health.
“I don’t have a problem when someone has a concern about the animal’s welfare as far as his health,” Sandlin said. “But when they want to talk about total animal liberation and equal rights for animals, I do stand opposed to that.”
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has received the defense fund’s complaint, spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa said in an email. “We will look into it. I want to clarify that this does not mean there is an open investigation,” she wrote.