Archive for the ‘michael sandlin’ Tag

Kids ROARING For Tony!!   Leave a comment

Thanks to these compassionate young people for caring about Tony and taking such positive measures to advocate on his behalf and to their teacher for providing such a wonderful animal advocacy project and selecting such an important issue – privately owned tigers in the U.S. As we say on Twitter – Tony IS the Captive Tiger Ambassador. Thank You Animal Legal Defense Fund for your dedicated & continued efforts to secure Tony’s release to a reputable big cat sanctuary. You have the support of Tony’s friends from all over the world.

Re-posting this from ALDF:

Students Speak Up for Tony the Tiger

Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on May 8, 2015

Animal lawyers aren’t the only ones roaring about cruelty to captive animals like Tony the tiger. Kids care too. Tony’s plight—being confined at a Louisiana truck stop parking lot—and ALDF’s ongoing legal battle to release him from that concrete nightmare got the attention of one awesome 4th grade class at Guilmette Elementary School in Massachusetts.


This spring, Ms. Buck’s 4th grade class used Tony’s cause to shape a persuasive writing and research project. Students were so excited about Tony, Ms. Buck says, the project “took on a life of its own.” Students created posters and circulated petitions as part of this project, and wrote letters to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, asking him to take Tony’s suffering seriously.

In particular, students were impressed by ALDF senior attorney Matthew Liebman’s work—Matthew has led Tony’s legal battle for years. Ms. Buck explains:

During their research, the students learned about the Animal Legal Defense Fund… as they read articles about Tony in which you were quoted. They suggested that I forward a sample of their work to you directly because they believe you will be supportive of their efforts.


The Animal Legal Defense Fund is touched and inspired by the dedication of these young advocates. Their letters urge fairness and humane treatment of animals like Tony, and his release to a reputable sanctuary. They also make persuasive arguments backed up with at least three points of solid evidence to prove their points and maintain a truly fair and balanced tone, appealing to the governor’s ethical and responsibility.

In conclusion, we respectfully ask you, Governor Jindal, to do what is right and fair. Hear our voice. –

Do you know how it feels to be locked up in a cage for 14 years? Tony does and that’s why I want Tony the Truck Stop Tiger to go to a sanctuary. –

[Tony’s owner Michael Sandlin] is threatening Tony’s and the public’s safety by keeping Tony. … In fact, Michael Sandlin got written up for “unsanitary feeding practices” by the USDA. –

Tony’s cage is like being locked up in jail. —


As Matthew told the children, “support from people like you keeps my spirits up and helps me keep fighting for his freedom. Your voices join thousands of people who are demanding that Tony be sent to a sanctuary. Sometimes, if enough people raise enough of a ruckus, things can change for the better. You should be proud of your contribution (and thankful you have a teacher who encourages this kind of civic participation). I hope Tony will one day be able to breathe clean air instead of diesel fumes and hear the grass rustling in the wind instead of the idling engines of trucks. Thanks for helping get him a step closer to that day!”

This outstanding class inspires each of us to keep fighting to protect animals. As Matthew says, “even though these battles can be frustrating and slow, don’t give up. The animals are counting on you to speak up for them. Your voice has power. Use it!”

Want to get your class involved in advocacy projects for animals? Check out ALDF’s brand-new youth advocacy action kit!

Keep ROARING For Tony The Truck Stop Tiger! A @Dodo Community Page Post   Leave a comment

FTTT NOTE: We thought it would be a good idea to post a story about Tony to the Dodo Community page. (This post was created by a member of the Dodo Community, where anyone can post fascinating stories, photos, videos and more.) Link to this post on The Dodo:

Tony, a Siberian-Bengal tiger, was born in July 2000 and has been at Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana since he was a cub. According to Mr. Sandlin (Tony’s “owner”) he got Tony from a breeder in Texas. In 2003, three tigers: Toby and Rainbow 18 years old and 8 year old Khan were removed from the truck stop due to AWA volations which included: “unsanitary feeding practices; mishandling tigers; and failure to provide veterinary care, shelter from inclement weather, clean drinking water, and knowledgeable employees to care for the tigers.” The USDA allowed Sandlin to keep one tiger, Tony, who was 3 years old at the time.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund continues to fight for Tony’s release to a reputable big cat sanctuary.(Photo ©FreeTonyTheTiger2014)

Tony has brought worldwide attention to the serious issue of captive tigers in the U.S. where there are more privately owned tigers (est. 5,000 – 10,000) than left in the wild (est. 3,200.) Regarding Tony: Michael Sandlin’s state permit was found illegal and revoked in 2011 by Judge Michael Caldwell; this decision was upheld by The Louisiana Appeal Court and the Louisiana Supreme Court. Though the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries had the authority to seize Tony and enforce the law and these rulings, they refused to. When Mr. Sandlin exhausted his appeals he enlisted Sen. Rick Ward to propose a bill 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. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has been working tirelessly on Tony’s case and has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Louisiana taxpayers, challenging the state’s new special exemption.

Sign at Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana where Tony has been used as a roadside attraction since 2000. (Photo ©FreeTonyTheTiger2014)

Three sanctuaries have standing offers of homes for Tony. One such sanctuary’s tiger habitats start at 8,000 sq ft or more, all natural substrate, perches, hammock, pool, toys/enrichment and access to an indoor temperature controlled building. Keepers have 4 year zoology degrees and a vet hospital on-site. Another sanctuary recently debuted a 2.5 acre habitat for their cats to “vacation in” with platforms, dens, trees, foliage, a pond and enrichment toys. A sanctuary in Colorado, whose executive director and founder has 35 years of experience in rescuing, transporting, relocating and acclimating tigers and other big cats to their new habitats without incident, can provide a natural habitat 10-20 acres in size on rolling prairie grasslands, complete with swimming ponds and seasonal lakes. They all have underground dens (that stay about 60 degrees year round), shade shelters and play structures, and all kinds of toys and enrichment. His enclosure may be 3200 sq ft, but it’s a dismal 1600 sq ft of concrete and a small “grassy area” that offers him no opportunity to run or engage in any natural behaviors. He has been subjected to the noise and smells of the truck stop and the taunting of tourists for 15 years.

Comparison of Tony’s dismal cage at the truck stop and a tiger in a 2.5 acre habitat at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa FL. (Photo ©FreeTonyTheTiger2014, Big Cat Rescue – Tampa FL, PuppyProtector1)


While Tony’s legal case continues, one of the most important ways we can help Tony is by keeping him in the public eye through social media.

Tony is known on Twitter as the Captive Tiger Ambassador because he raises important awareness for captive tigers in the United States. (Photo ©FreeTonyTheTiger2014)

Tony Nominated For A Shorty Award!

The Shorty Awards recognize the best in social media. Tony’s nomination not only raises awareness to his plight, but to the 5,000 plus captive tigers in the United States. Captive tigers suffer in roadside zoos, circuses, and traveling exhibitions; tigers cubs are bred for profit and used in photo & feeding ops, when they are no longer longer “cute” and “legal” to exploit, and turn into 300 to 500 lb. dangerous cats, they face years of captive life in roadside zoos/exhibits and pseudo-sanctuaries. Others are bred to produce more cubs, end up in canned hunts, or are killed and sold on the black market.

Voting ends February 19th 2015 at 11:59pmEST ~ So if you haven’t voted please do!

As of this post Tony is in 4th place with 182 nominations. Each Official Category will have 7 finalists. These include 3 with the most nominations from the public, 3 selected by members of the Real-Time Academy and 1 Wildcard Finalist. The Wildcard Finalist will be selected by the Nominating Board from among the top 25 nominees with the most nominations after the nominating period ends.

Have a Twitter Account? Click the TWEET button in the picture above to nominate Tony! (Photo ©FreeTonyTheTiger2014)

Ways to Nominate:

  • Click the Tweet button in the picture above
  • On Twitter: Send a tweet that starts with:

I nominate @TonyTiger2000 for a Shorty Award in #nonhuman because…

Votes must have a reason after “because…” or they won’t count!

Note: Retweeted nominations and tweets starting with @replies do not count toward the rankings. Voting for the same person in the same category more than once just replaces the text of your original vote; it does not count as an additional vote.

Watch and share Tony’s Campaign video:

More info on Tony and the Shorty Awards on his blog:

              The above picture of Tony appeared in the February 2015 issue of Smithsonian Magazine. (Photo ©FreeTonyTheTiger2014)

Tony’s picture was recently featured in Smithsonian Magazine in an article about captive tigers in the U.S.:

There was also an article in The Guardian on Tony:

Stay Social With Tony!

Share his Facebook page and posts:

On Twitter? Follow @FreeTonyTiger & @TonyTiger2000 and Nominate Tony for a Shorty Awards!

Tony has his own Instagram account: @tonythetruckstoptiger



Tony’s Petition Is Still Open: Already signed? Please share the link!

Keep ROARING for Tony!

Tony September 2014 (Photo ©FreeTonyTheTiger2014)

The Guardian: Meet Tony, the Truck Stop Mascot Dividing Louisiana   Leave a comment

Animal rights group @ALDF not giving up on ‘Tony’   Leave a comment

tony_tigerThe 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.”

via @ALDF: Animal Legal Defense Fund Back in Court to Protect Tony the Tiger From Losing Statutory Protection   Leave a comment

tony deePosted on November 14, 2014

Direct Link:

For immediate release:

Megan Backus, ALDF
Lisa Franzetta, ALDF

BATON ROUGE — Arguments will be heard Monday in a lawsuit brought by the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) to protect Tony, a tiger living at Grosse Tete’s Tiger Truck Stop. The lawsuit alleges that Louisiana lawmakers violated the state’s constitutional prohibition on “special laws” when they exempted Tony’s owner, Michael Sandlin, from existing animal welfare and public safety laws by passing Act 697 in June. ALDF is representing former Louisiana Representative Warren Triche, Jr. (who sponsored the 2006 ban on private ownership of dangerous large exotic cats) and other Louisiana residents and taxpayers. The Tiger Truck Stop has asked the court to dismiss ALDF’s lawsuit against the State of Louisiana, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Tiger Truck Stop and owner Michael Sandlin.

Where: 19th Judicial District Court, Division 23, Room 8a, 300 North Boulevard, Baton Rouge, LA.

When: Monday, November 17, 2014. 9:30am CT

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.”

Copies of the lawsuit and photographs of Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop are available upon request.

FTTT Note: Please leave your comments in support of ALDF’s efforts and Tony’s re-homing to a big cat sanctuary at the direct link:


Raw Video of Tony 9.22.2014   6 comments

Video taken of Tony recently. New media of Tony is always appreciated. If you visit Tony, document your visit with pictures and video, and please share them with us. Send us a tweet via Twitter @FreeTonyTiger or email: Thanks again for your continued to support of Tony’s release to a reputable big cat sanctuary.

Yes, There Really IS a Tiger at a Truck Stop   9 comments


I first learned of Tony about five years ago while I was online researching information about big cats. I can honestly say I had no idea about privately owned tigers in the United States or the seriousness of the issue. I remember falling upon Big Cat Rescue’s (of Tampa FL) website and it was there I read about Tony. As with most everyone who learns of Tony’s story, I was shocked – the more I learned the more I wanted to do something to help. I signed petitions, shared his story, and embraced social media starting a Facebook page, blog, Twitter and Youtube for Tony. Tony even has his “own” Twitter and Instagram.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund took interest in Tony’s case and the legal battle began in 2011. ALDF victories in court prevailed with a judge ruling the permit issued by LDWF to Tony’s owner was illegal; Mr. Sandlin countered with appeals that were ruled against.

See this timeline from ALDF:

ALDF’s feature article about Tony:

The most recent attempt by Mr. Sandlin to keep Tony came about with him enlisting his state Senator, Rick Ward, to propose a bill, SB 250, to exempt himself from the Louisiana state law banning private ownership of big cats. SB 250 was passed by the Louisiana Legislature and then was signed into law as Act 697 by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

ALDF challenged this bill by filing a lawsuit against the LDWF, state of Louisiana, Tiger Truck Stop and Mr. Sandlin:

Animal Legal Defense Fund Files Lawsuit against Louisiana for Violating State Constitution with New Tony the Truck Stop Tiger Law:

Thankfully friends of Tony would visit him and share pictures and video they took which is a tremendous help in maintaining a presence online, updating people who follow his case as well as to gain support when there are actions to take on Tony’s behalf. But with all the pictures, videos, and accounts of Tony at the truck stop, I longed to see him for myself.

I finally got the opportunity to visit Tony recently and it has taken me some time to write this account. The whole experience was surreal, exciting, heartbreaking and bittersweet. I was honored to be in the presence of this majestic tiger but saddened by the conditions he is subjected to and disgusted by the blatant corruption and disregard for a state law that passed unanimously in 2006 banning private ownership of big cats. This along with the lack of concern for Tony’s well-being has shocked and disturbed those of us who are committed to Tony’s release to a sanctuary that can provide him with a natural spacious habitat, excellent medical care, proper diet, enrichment and a peaceful life cared for by those who have the utmost respect for him.

Driving along I-10 I saw the signs for exit 139 Grosse Tete and “LIVE TIGER ATTRACTION” It still seemed like a dream to me…I couldn’t believe I WAS GOING TO SEE TONY – a tiger, known and loved all over the world!



As I pulled into Tiger Truck Stop I was anxious to see Tony but remembered a friend’s accounts of visits where he stayed in his den or on top of it where you hardly could see him.

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I parked and gathered my camera and phone and walked over to his cage…Tony emerged from his “den” – a handsome big beautiful tiger. I was overcome with mixed emotions: sadness, disbelief, joy, anger  –  I muttered something like: “Hi Tony, I’ve waited a long time to see you beautiful boy.”




I finally was able to see for myself his enclosure which is 4 compounds of concrete flooring with cinder-block dens and a small grassy area that had a ball; platform, old battered tire and what looked to be a kiddie pool in a wooden platform.

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Tony paced from one compound through the grassy area and back again. It was extremely hot near 90. After pacing for quite some time, Tony retreated to one of the den platforms where he stayed for a while until he came down to eat.




I observed people who stopped to take a picture, locals talked amongst themselves how “they” tried to take Tony away from them; a man asked me where Tony was because it was difficult to see him on top of the den; after pointing out Tony to him he said: “This is bloody sad.”


A few days earlier I had visited Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. I had been to BCR a few years ago and on both occasions I kept thinking what a wonderful life Tony could have at such a sanctuary. BCR, along with The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado and Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone Minnesota all have standing offers of homes for Tony.

Tiger at Big Cat Rescue - Tampa FL

Tiger at Big Cat Rescue – Tampa FL

For 14 years Tony has been exploited at the truck stop as a roadside attraction. He has become the “spokes-tiger” for captive tigers and big cats in the United States by networking the issue to people worldwide and gaining support in the U.S. for a federal ban on private ownership of big cats with the Big Cats & Public Safety Protection Act. United States Residents can take action by asking their Congress Members for their co-sponsorship and support of this bill; visit this link from Big Cat Rescue – Tampa FL:

It was very difficult to leave to Tony. I thought of how wonderful it would be to see this striped king running, splashing in a real pool or just resting peacefully in green grass – away from the noise, smells and gritty truck stop environment. I told him to stay strong and that we’ll never give up on getting him to a “good place.”


It was an honor to see Tony. I look forward to another visit – the next time at a sanctuary where Tony will truly be able to experience the magnificent cat he is and live in the home he deserves. Until then, I’ll continue to do whatever I can to support efforts for his release to such a place. Tony has captured the minds and hearts of people globally and his worldwide “army” will never stop roaring for him and his release to a reputable big cat sanctuary.

Stay Strong Tony

tony wm 2014


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