Archive for the ‘Animal Talkies’ Tag

From Animal Talkies: VICTORY FOR TONY, the Truck Stop Tiger!   Leave a comment

Another wonderful post for Tony from radio broadcaster and musician Karishmeh Felfeli’s animal welfare and compassionate living blog: Animal Talkies.  Dirtect link: Thanks to Karismeh for caring about Tony and supporting him.  Follow Animal Talkies on Twitter @animaltalkies

VICTORY FOR TONY, the Truck Stop Tiger!

 Breaking News….Victory for Tony

 A couple of months ago, I wrote about a beautiful tiger called Tony, the 10 year old Bengal/Siberian used as a roadside attraction in Louisiana. The only life Tony has known is one in a hideous truck stop, breathing fumes from vehicles, and used as a tourist attraction for passers-by to gawk at. After a very, very long campaign (just over three years) thousands of petition signatures, and blogs, videos and articles published all over the world (including messages from celebrities such as Leonardo di Caprio and Ian Somerhalder who is originally from Louisiana), a judge has FINALLY ruled in favour of Tony and against his owner Michael Sandlin. I cannot describe how elated I feel, especially since when this great news broke, I was actually in hospital after an accident and missed the moment this victorious ruling was made. On 6th May 2011, Judge R. Michael Caldwell granted a permanent injunction which blocks The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries from issuing a new permit to Tony’s owner Michael Sandlin. READ MORE ABOUT THIS HISTORIC RULING HERE
VICTORY FOR TONY!!! And VICTORY for all those who have worked tirelessly, campaigning on behalf of this beautiful animal. Captive tigers continue to be a growing problem in the United States, and Tony is not the only privately owned tiger. If I met the legal team from the Animal Legal Defense Fund I think I would touch their feet in gratitude (no exaggeration) for securing this victory for Tony. I cannot wait for the day he leaves his horrible truck stop behind and goes to a beautiful sanctuary where he can live the rest of his days in peace. I know he will not know life in the wild, as a tiger ought to, but surely his quality of life will be much improved, free from the noise and fumes of his truck stop home. 
I have written letters, campaigned, blogged and tweeted, and as one of the thousands of people who has been fighting for Tony, this feels like a very personal victory. Never believe one person can’t make a difference, for in doing what you can, in some small way, you are giving a voice to the voiceless, and speaking up against the injustices that take place every second of every day. I am now going to support the Animal Legal Defense Fund from halfway across the world, because they have proven that NOBODY is above the law and no case is too difficult to fight for, when it comes to the welfare of our fellow creatures.
It’s been a very difficult week, but I feel strangely optimistic about things. We can make a difference, so lets never stop trying, fighting ad doing what we can to help the animals and human beings that need us the most. And much gratitude goes to Judge R. Michael Caldwell for doing the right thing and making the obvious ruling for Tony’s welfare in this case.


@FreeTonyTiger on Twitter 

Posted by Karishmeh at 4:09 AM

From Success! Louisiana Truck Stop Loses Permit Renewal for Caged Tiger   Leave a comment has been very supportive of Tony and his relocation to an accredited big cat sanctuary and their coverage of Tony’s plight is greatly appreciated. Please take a moment to post a comment for Tony at the direct link:

by Stephanie Feldstein · May 09, 2011
Last week, the Animal Legal Defense Fund reported that a judge in East Baton Rouge District Court ruled that Tiger Truck Stop, owned by Michael Sandlin, has seen its last permit to keep Tony the tiger on display. Although the court did not revoke the current permit, it did issue a permanent injunction, preventing the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries from renewing the permit again come December, which means Tony will finally be headed for a new home.For the past year, Tony’s advocates have reached out to the community for help in freeing the tiger condemned to living in a cement-floored cage at a Louisiana truck stop, where he was constantly exposed to fumes, noisy engines, bright lights, and harassment from visitors. Thousands of members joined Tony’s advocates in calling for a boycott of Tiger Truck Stop and again in protesting the renewal of Tiger Truck Stop’s permit to display Tony.

In late December, the fight for Tony’s freedom was struck a blow when the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries renewed the permit despite the outcry for Tony’s freedom. Enter the Animal Legal Defense Fund. ALDF’s lawyers argued that the permit renewal was not only inhumane, it was also illegal.

Read the rest of this entry »

From Animal Talkies: The Truck Stop Tiger Called Tony   4 comments

The following post is from radio broadcaster and musician Karishmeh Felfeli’s blog Animal Talkies. Karishmeh’s blog is dedicated to animal welfare and compassionate living. Reaching more people with Tony’s story is very important not only to gain more support for him but also to bring attention to the serious problem of  privately owned tigers in the United States.  

Thank you Karishmeh for your excellent blog post; it was wonderful to read your “personal experiences” with tigers and why Tony is important to you. Tony continues to capture the hearts of people worldwide who want to see him in a proper home and receiving the care he needs and deserves.

The Truck Stop Tiger Called Tony

By: Karishmeh Felfeli

The first time I saw a real, live tiger was at Peshwa Udyan Zoo, in Peshwa Park, near Saras Baug in Poona. I’m struggling to remember my first impressions, as I can’t have been more than three or four years old. I remember really enjoying the day at the Zoo – small and primitive though it was. I actually saw the magnificent tiger from the little children’s toy train that used to run through the park, up the little hill, overlooking the tiger enclosure at the very end. Straight out of some Rudyard Kipling sketch or essay. As I grew older, and returned to Peshwa Park Zoo a few more times, I felt more and more uneasy at the ridiculously tiny enclosure the tigers had to themselves. I still remember one tiger pacing up and down the narrow corridor in the 35 degrees celcius heat. Still, this was Poona, India and the animals “seemed” well looked after, so who was I to argue with that. 

K.M. Chinnappa

The second time I saw a tiger was much more memorable. I was in the Southern state of Karnataka, not yet 16, before my expedition to the Nepal Himalayas and was spending some time training (physically and mentally) for the forthcoming trip. It was the rainy season, the notorious Indian monsoon, and I was spending two weeks at the “Nagarhole National Park”, a beautiful, lush place renowned for its Tiger Conservation Project and one where it was still possible to sight a tiger. After spending the better part of a fortnight having the blood sucked out of me (quite literally) by the millions of leeches that plague the area in the rainy season (nothing can be done about this, except salting ones feet, shoes, socks and pulling out the leeches one by one!!), I finally saw the magnificent big cat in his natural surroundings. The man who made this possible was a terrifying, looming man dressed from head to toe in proper “park ranger” clothing, complete with a very large old style “shikari” gun. This chap was Mr K.M. Chinnnappa – tireless champion of tigers, and one who would be instrumental in preserving the tiger population at this beautiful place. (Ah – the internet, it wasn’t around when I met Chinnappa, but I see there’s more information about him online now – read here). I’ll be the first to admit that he scared me senseless, and spoke many times that he would “kill a poacher at sight, if one crossed his path.” Plus he seemed a dour sort of man, with little time for the giddy schoolgirl nonsense that seemed to fill my mind from time to time – I don’t think he cared less whether I went to Everest Base Camp, or jumped off the darned mountain without a harness! His mission was simple – educate young people about the wildlife (this included making me and others memorise all the botanical names of every species of flora and fauna that existed in Nagarhole) and protect the tigers.

When I saw the magnificent tiger (who I nicknamed Venkatesh, after the South Indian tough guy actor) at around 11 p.m. at night, I understood, for the first time, why Chinnappa was so crazy about protecting these beasts. A tiger was not supposed to be at a tiny cage/cell in Peshwa Park Zoo – he was supposed to be in places like Nagarhole – swaggering around as he would have done in the days of the Raj and Nizams, until some Lord, Nizam or Maharaja fired a bullet his way – it was not that long ago that there were so many tigers in India that hunting them was both a social activity and a sport that has thankfully become extinct (off topic – remember that great Bonzo tune Hunting Tigers out in Indiiiiah). And I could see why Chinnappa was so passionate about saving these beautiful creatures – and showing little sympathy to person who would poach a tiger for a few quid.

Someone else who is very passionate about saving the tigers is Hollywood star Leonardo di Caprio (his boyish face was plastered everywhere the year I went to Nagarhole – Titanic was just released, if I recall correctly). Here he is, talking to the BBC about why he is doing so much to save the tigers from extinction – and he has the support of the World Wildlife Fund. So it seems utterly baffling that in America, land of the “free” , a beautiful tiger (one of over a thousand) has been caged at a truck stop for over ten years, for passers-by to gawk at. When I first came across Tony’s Story, I honestly thought it was some sort of joke gone terribly wrong. Surely this sort of madness doesn’t still take place, in 21st Century America of all places. But no, this is actually very, very real. According to the Big Cat Rescue, and the FTTT campaign website

“Tony is a 10 year old Siberian/Bengal tiger used as a roadside attraction at Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete Louisiana. Tony is another example of how serious the problem is of private ownership of tigers in the United States where there are more privately owned tigers then there are left in the wild.
Tony’s owner, Michael Sandlin, has bought, sold, bred, and exhibited tigers for over 20 years. In 2003, because of violations and fines, Mr. Sandlin and the USDA made an agreement where 3 of the 4 tigers he owned, Toby, Khan and Rainbow, were sent to Tiger Haven in Kingston TN. The USDA reduced the fines and allowed Mr. Sandlin to keep one tiger, Tony.”

I was honestly at a loss for words when I saw the photos and watched the videos of Tony at his horrible truck stop abode in Louisiana. On the one hand, Leo di Caprio is trying to save tigers, and on the other hand, idiotic individuals who violate numerous laws are allowed to keep these beautiful creatures as “pets” – that too at a polluted, stressful roadside location which can’t be good for anyone, let alone a beautiful tiger.

Despite endless campaigning and petitioning  (40,000 plus signatures), and some fairly high-profile Twitter Retweeting (Leo di Caprio and actor Ian Somerhalder, a Louisiana native, animal lover, campaigner and founder of the IS Foundation ) in mid-December, officials from the LDWF decided to grant the permit renewal to Tony’s owner allowing him to continue exhibiting the ageing Tony as a road-side attraction at the truck stop throughout 2011. A sad, sad state of affairs. Is Tony’s fate any better than that of the tigers who are killed by poachers? I really doubt it. He’s fed and has a place to live, but after seeing how tigers live in the wild, or certainly even in tiger/big cat sanctuaries/nature reserves, a grotty truck stop is absolutely NO place for such a beautiful animal. Maybe when the tigers are no more, and we only have photos in history and wildlife books to remember them by, arrogant and idiotic people who subject these animals to such an existance will come to their senses. It makes me just as sad to see a tiger subject to such a life as Tony’s as it does to see a tiger hunted and killed for his skin, claws, teeth, whatever it is that people want from these beautiful creatures. Where are “power celebrities” like Ellen and Oprah when you need them? Just because Tony doesn’t have a book to sell or a movie to promote!

Still, I’m a firm believer in the power of education and information. Which is why this blog exists and which is why I chose to pursue a career as an educator and broadcaster – young people are often far more eloquent and compassionate than we give them credit for (there I go, sounding like my grandmother again…!). Here’s an example of a young voice speaking up for poor Tony and tigers all over America that are subject to such ridiculous conditions.

So if you’ve managed to get to the end of this blog post…thank you! And now, before you close out of this webpage, here’s how you can make your voice heard. And it will be heard – you must at least try, for Tony’s sake. I know I’m referring to him as if he’s my own cat, rather than a tiger, but I’m not about to start apologising for that now.


Take Action – it won’t take more than a few minutes.
On Twitter: follow @freetonytiger
On Facebook (if you use the darned thing

Thank you.

Posted by Karishmeh at 2:02 PM
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