Archive for the ‘big cat rescue’ Tag

Help Big Cats Like Tony, Who Died After a Miserable Life at a Gas Station   Leave a comment

Tony the tiger was forced to spend his life in a chain-link cage at a Louisiana gas station, until he was recently euthanized because of his failing health. He was 17 years old and had spent nearly his entire life imprisoned at the truck stop. It’s too late for Tony, but it’s not too late to help other big cats who are languishing in private homes across the U.S.

Tony the tiger in cage

© Big Cat Rescue

In nature, big cats often have home ranges of hundreds of miles, where they have the opportunity to roam, swim, climb, hunt, choose their mates, and raise their young. But in private homes, they suffer in cramped cages and barren enclosures, where they’re denied everything that’s natural and important to them. Wild animals belong in the wild, and when these dangerous apex predators are confined to private homes, the consequences can be fatal, and there have been hundreds of dangerous incidents in the U.S. since 1990.

To help end the private breeding and possession of tigers and other big cats, please use the form at: to let your members of Congress know that you support the Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 1818), which would bring an end to private ownership of dangerous wild cats, safeguarding both wild animals and communities across the U.S. You can check to see if your representatives are already cosponsors of this bill by clicking here. Please feel free to customize the letter, thanking them if they’re already cosponsors or asking them to sponsor it if they aren’t.

TONY: 17 Years At Tiger Truck Stop   Leave a comment


As the month of July begins, we mark another year of captivity at Tiger Truck Stop for Tony. It is reported Tony was born in July of 2000 and acquired as a cub that year from a Texas breeder.

Back in 2009, we learned about Tony from Big Cat Rescue in Tampa Florida, and wanted to do whatever we could to help him, gain support for his release to a reputable sanctuary and raise awareness for captive tigers in the United States. By bringing his story to social media, people from all over the world learned about Tony and the captive tiger situation in the U.S. With more privately owned tigers in the United States (est. 5,000 plus) than left in the wild (appx. 3,200) support for legislation banning private ownership is very important. The Big Cat Public Safety Act is a federal law that would end the private possession of big cats as pets, props and for their parts. Please help with the passage of this law by contacting your member of congress and asking them to support the bill. Visit: where you will be able to contact your representative by phone, e-mail or Twitter.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) began their legal proceedings on Tony’s behalf in 2011. Repeated court victories found the permit issued by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries illegal – each victory was met with an appeal by Michael Sandlin, owner of Tiger Truck Stop. When Mr. Sandlin exhausted his appeals he enlisted Sen. Rick Ward to propose a bill (SB 250) to exempt himself from the 2006 law barring private ownership of big cats. The bill was passed by the Louisiana Legislature and signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal (Act 697.)

ALDF has vowed to continue fighting for Tony’s release to a reputable big cat sanctuary – and to also keep fighting for Tony to honor the memory of Candy, a chimpanzee held captive for decades at Dixie Landin’ amusement park in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in lonely, cramped cage without any interaction with other chimps.

Please see ALDF’s timeline of Tony’s case for updates on their current legal actions:

You can support ALDF and all of their tremendous work to help animals here:

The following links provide more information on ALDF’s recent legal actions for Tony:

We thank these sanctuaries for their great support of Tony and for their standing offers of a home for him:

Our final THANK YOU is to ALL of Tony’s friends for their positive support and dedication to this beautiful tiger and to Tony’s release to a safe, clean home that will provide him with the care and respect all animals deserve.

Please continue to support Tony, the “Free Tony The Tiger Campaign”, his legal representatives ALDF, and the wonderful sanctuaries mentioned in this post.

If you visit Tony and take pictures and/or video please share them with us. Tag us on Instagram, Twitter or e-mail:

Keep Tony’s Story networked on social media:


Instagram: (@TonyTheTruckstopTiger)



Sign Tony’s Petition:

Personal Note: Visiting Tony, I vowed: We Will Never Stop Fighting For You Handsome Boy…and WE NEVER WILL!

Stay Strong “T” ♥

GRRRRR-OWL-O-WEEN Big Cat Style!   Leave a comment

Sharing this Halloween video from Big Cat Rescue in Tampa Florida of the cats enjoying their pumpkins – and as always thinking of Tony and hoping he too will soon experience enrichment and a wonderful home like this.


From The Fight for Tony the Truck Stop Tiger Heads to Court   Leave a comment

by Stephanie Feldstein · May 04, 2011

For Tony, the Siberian-Bengal tiger who spends his days as a roadside attraction at a Louisiana truck stop, this week feels as dismal as any other. But Tony’s advocates hope this week will mark the beginning of the end of his captivity.

On May 5, the Animal Legal Defense Fund will appear in East Baton Rouge District Court when the legal battle for Tony’s freedom begin. At that time, they will deliver your petition signatures to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Last week, Leonardo DiCaprio, a longtime advocate for tigers, urged his fans on Twitter and Facebook to help Tony. “Have you heard about Tony, a Siberian-Bengal tiger living at a truck stop in Louisiana?” DiCaprio wrote on Facebook. “This tiger has been living in a small inadequate and inhumane enclosure since 2003. We need to help the Animal Legal Defense Fund in urging the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to revoke the permit that allows this.”

Not only does LDWF have the power to revoke the permit that allows Tiger Truck Stop to keep Tony behind bars but, Animal Legal Defense Fund contends, it was illegal for them to issue the permit in the first place.

In court tomorrow, ALDF will begin to argue the case that the wildlife department violated state regulations on private ownership of big cats. As of 2006, tigers were no longer allowed as pets or exhibits in Louisiana, unless they were already legally owned and grandfathered in at the time the new regulations came into effect.

But ever since 1993, tigers haven’t been allowed in Tiger Truck Stop’s hometown of Iberville. So, as far as state law is concerned, Tony is contraband.

Officials have spent years ignoring the inhumane, illegal situation at Tiger Truck Stop. But then people began to learn about Tony. And they began to speak out for him.

As the call for his release to a sanctuary has grown into a roar, officials have been trying to backtrack. Iberville parish granted Tiger Truck Stop an exemption to keep Tony in 2009 … years too late to qualify for the state permit. Yet once again, in 2010, the state renewed the permit anyway.

What’s different now is that Tony has a legal team that’s forcing the wildlife department to answer for its inhumane inconsistencies in court. And Tony has you to keep his story in the spotlight and pressure the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to do the right thing and get Tony out of the truck stop and into a sanctuary.

Photo credit: Big Cat Rescue

Stephanie Feldstein is a Editor who has been part of the animal welfare and rescue community for over a decade, and most recently worked for an environmental organization.

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
Direct link:

Pictures of Tony Courtesy   2 comments

Thanks to for permission to post their pictures of Tony taken on February 11, 2011. is ” A place where truck drivers and anything with wheels can be social.” The support of truckers and the trucking community for Tony is important and very appreciated.

Reminder:  If you go to Tiger Truck Stop to see Tony document your visit with photographs or video and email them along with your personal statement to: Big Cat Rescue – Tampa Florida at   Their mailing address is 12802 Easy St. Tampa, FL 33625. Please also post your pictures and videos of Tony on his Facebook page:  Your concerns for Tony’s health and welfare along with your photos should also be brought to the attention of the LDWF: Secretary Barham, Maria Davidson and Fred Kimmel. Their contact information can be found at:

Also contact the USDA. From : “Report Animal Abuse to USDA” It takes many years and many complaints to get the USDA to take action so it is important that you contact them with facts, photos, videos and information they can use.

USDA contact info at:

The USDA’s Investigative and Enforcement Services

For more ways to stay involved and support Tony:

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