Truck Stop Tiger Could Be Denied Legal Protections with New Louisiana Bill

Posted on April 22, 2014

Special Exemption Would Keep Tiger at Gross Tete Truck Stop; Advocates Urge Immediate Action

For immediate release:

Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF

tony-the-tiger-copyright-vivian-perkins-article-image-500pxBATON ROUGE — The national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is calling on the Louisiana state legislature today to defend existing protections for tigers, in light of a bill that could undo every victory made by the organization on Tony the tiger’s behalf. On April 9th, with less than one day’s notice, the Louisiana Senate Committee on Natural Resources rushed through approval of “SB 250.” SB 250 undermines a 2006 state law that bans private ownership of tigers and other large exotic cats by exempting “certain persons from the requirements of the big exotic cats rules.” The bill is an attempt to retroactively remove Tony’s protection under the 2006 law, and allow Michael Sandlin to retain possession of Tony—a 14 year old Siberian Bengal tiger confined at Grosse Tete’sTiger Truck Stop by Sandlin in violation of the state ban. The Senate is expected to debate the measure on Monday, April 28.

Sandlin has been in illegal possession of Tony the tiger since 2000, displaying him in a cage at the Gross Tete truckstop where he is subjected to harmful fumes and excessive noise. In 2011, ALDF sued the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) for unlawfully issuing Sandlin a permit to keep and exhibit Tony. ALDF was joined in the suit by several Louisiana taxpayers, including former Rep. Warren Triche, Jr, the sponsor of the 2006 ban, and has been receiving pro bono assistance from the law firm Baker Donelson. In April 2013, the Court of Appeal held that Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop were ineligible for a big cat permit and could no longer keep Tony. In October 2013, the Louisiana Supreme Court rejected Sandlin’s petition and let that decision stand.Triche explained, “Tony’s situation played a principal role in passing the 2006 bill, as he was a perfect example of why such legislation was needed.”

“ALDF’s Court of Appeals victory to help protect Tony the tiger still stands, yet Sandlin continues to try to undermine the law, year after year,” said Stephen Wells, executive director for the Animal Legal Defense Fund.“This bill was deviously snuck in the back door, with no notice, and is one more attempt from Sandlin to say he is not accountable by law and should receive special favors—Tony deserves the court to uphold the law.”

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

48 thoughts on “Truck Stop Tiger Could Be Denied Legal Protections with New Louisiana Bill

  1. Ines Moorhouse says:

    So, when will this tiger be relocated to a sanctuary?

    1. Barbara Kennedy says:

      What is he doing with this tiger to begin with .. its aganist the law to cage wild animals …its wrong … let him go back to the wild where he will be happy or at least take him to a zoo…there is some selfish ppl in this world !!!!or a wildlife place … i wonder how this guy would feel if it was him that was being caged ….

    2. I do not understand that this tiger will have to go back to the person who was in violation of a state ban to own Tony. Tony needs to be protected because he is an exotic animal and should be protected undder the endangered species act. I hope that louisiana rethinks its posititon on lifting the protection that Tony really needs. linda kreuzburg, menands, Ny

  2. Terry Mollison says:

    Sandlin has been in illegal possession of Tony the tiger since 2000, displaying him in a cage at the Gross Tete truckstop where he is subjected to harmful fumes and excessive noise. In 2011. This is not acceptable and needs to be stopped. As someone who has authority to create change for the purpose to improve conditions for those that are in heed of help, I look forward to seeing this matter resolved.

  3. Joanne says:

    Wild animals belong in the wild, be that jungle, sanctuary,somewhere they are safe and thriving…what part of not at a truckstop don’t you idiots understand? We are supposed to respect animals, not abuse them…let Tony go

  4. Petra Harris says:

    Let the tiger go, he’s been lock up too long already, if we would lock a human up at a zoo or truck stop, hell would be raised, hell has to be raised for Tony, an innocent creature who deserves much, much better from the human race! So Louisiana, be the first to take this step and show the world what humanity is really all about! Be the leaders!

    1. Renate says:

      dear Petra, you are so right and could not have said better what the Louisiana Law makers should do and hopefully very fast, swift.

  5. L k says:

    Please let this tiger go to sanctuary. He is suffering at the hands of a man who should not be allowed to keep him in a cage in a noxious environment. The tiger deserves more compassion.

    1. Renate says:

      Hi LK, I am absolutely agree with what you said.

  6. Mary Ann Snow says:

    God didn’t make Tigers for the entertainment of people. Tigers should be free to roam and do what Tigers do. And to make a special exemption so that these people can keep this Tiger as a pet is wrong. And cruel to the Tiger. We are past the days of people being able to won whatever kind of animal they want – for fun. I urge you to do the right thing. Have this Tiger moved to a sanctuary! Immediately.

  7. Renate says:

    Tony the Tiger has a right to be free and shall be free, No one has the right to deprive him form to live in a healthy environment. Let the Tiger Tony free!!!!!!

  8. Dewi Jung says:

    Dear Senator,

    Thank you For Standing Up For Tony The Tiger and Responsible USDA Licence Exotic Animal Exhibition.
    We support keeping Tony safely home and stopping the attack on an exhibit that has brought great joy to thousand of people from all over the country for over 25 years.
    We support Senate Bill 250

    Dewi Jung

    1. Susanne Trout says:

      Mr. Jung,

      You, Sandlin, and others who share your pathetic opinion obviously care nothing about the tiger. Exotic animals are not entertainment or truck stop attractions. There are so few wild tigers in the world thanks to the greed and ignorance of people like you. This tiger should be released from his miserable, barren life and allowed to live his remaining years in a sanctuary for big cats. He deserves so much more than what he’s been given so far.

  9. Tania R. says:

    This misery keeps going on for so long already!! I just can’t understand why Tony has not been relocated yet! Shame on all those who keep this beautiful animal from having a better future!

  10. Jeannie VanNorman says:

    Tony the Tiger should be given the care & space he deserves in a sanctuary. He’s been imprisoned for way to long!

  11. Nadisha Silva says:

    Tigers are endangered and don’t belong at truck stops in concrete enclosures.

  12. Linda says:

    There are no words…to say… other than I beg you to help Tony the tiger and others like him…please don’t act like a third world country…..stop the madness….

  13. Jenna W says:

    Let Tony the Tiger go!! This is ridiculous! This tiger is suffering and has been for YEARS! LET HIM GO!

  14. Melissa says:

    my husband and I stopped through having no idea about this situation, we were horrified to find this gorgeous animal in a small enclosure at a GAS STATION!! it is completely wrong and disgusting. No animal should be forced to live in those conditions. I cannot believe this beautiful animal is still in this enclosure after all this time. The person or people keeping this animal have zero conscience for this animal. the people defending the actions are just as sick as the “owners”.

    1. Rita Stevenson says:

      PLEASE Louisiana, HELP Tony Tiger and get him OUT OF THERE.. keeping him prisoner in that inhumane enclosure…
      is as CRUEL and CRIMINAL
      as the man who bought TONY ..

  15. Garr Sanders says:

    I agree with Linda; and I to beg you to protect wildlife and give the Tiger and others like him room to move and to like being alive.

  16. Amanda says:

    Is there a petition I can sign for Tony?

  17. Pamela Geier says:

    This is not right. Period. Please see to it that this tiger is released into a sanctuary with his proper habitat. Please.

  18. Anthony S. Copani says:

    I have been following this case for quite some time now, and I cannot believe Tony is still being held captive at this gas station. He was supposed to have been placed in a sanctuary long ago. Louisiana, Tony deserves a better life. Period. Why insist on his misery?
    Keep fighting for him, ALDF!

  19. Ineke says:

    Please, let him go!

  20. Ineke says:

    Please let him go!

  21. Emily P Smith says:

    What’s wrong with Louisiana legislators that they can’t do the right thing? Are they backward or something?

  22. Erica Elmes says:

    This day and age and what we know… This is so sad and just wrong! How can they get away with having Tony for so long in the first place?????

  23. Julie Brodlowicz says:

    What ever happened to good old fashioned respect for all livi g creatures? The way Tony is being kept is appaling. At LSU, their mascot tiger lives in a beautiful 1 million dollar enclosure complete with air conditioning, fresh water pool and thirty lbs of choice cut meat daily…Poor Tony is living in barbaric conditions and needs to be frred and placed in a beautiful sanctuary…

  24. Veronique Smith says:

    Yes I CANNOT BELIEVE this man still holds this poor traumatised animal when the courts have repeatedly confirmed it is illegal! Plesae continue the fight ALDF for Tony and other such captive animals – you are his only hope, with so many of us behind you that actually care for the wellbeing of animals. Thank you. We pray for you to be released asap Tony.

  25. Jean Fankell says:

    Continue the fight for Tony!!! This is outrageous!!!!

  26. Allison says:

    This should not be happening! This is illegal so Tony should be protected. Please do the right thing.

  27. Sen. Rick Ward’s bill is yet another attempt to circumvent Louisiana’s ban on private possession of big cats i.e.: specifically to keep Tony at the truck stop where he is being held in violation of local and state law. Louisiana Residents: Please contact your Senators and tell them to keep Louisiana’s big cat law strong and vote NO on SB 250. See this post also from ALDF for more info:

  28. De Moya says:

    Please spare this beautiful animal from living a horrible life. This man has been in violation of the law for seven laws. At what point does the state of Louisana stand up and uphold the law Send this animal to a sanctuary now

  29. sharon williams says:

    vote no to sb250 and set tony free

  30. Florence Dollman says:

    Tony deserves a better life and protection!

    Vote NO to SB250!

    Tony needs to be set free!!!

  31. Mary Lowry says:

    This poor tiger shouldn’t have to wait another minute for a safe and healthy life. Please vote no on sb250.

  32. Diane gibbs says:

    Make those idiots set him free

  33. Corrina Faulkner says:

    Keeping any sort of wild animal caged is totally immoral. When big cats are caged it is denying them all their natural behaviour. It isn’t clever to keep a powerful animal behind bars. When humans are sent to prison its because they have committed a crime. What crime has Tony committed? Please let him go!

  34. Rhonda Bird says:

    Tis is really sad.Please don’t let this tiger wait another minute. Please set him free.

  35. Barb Knight says:

    Tony needed to be set free yesterday. Sandlin is a MONSTER and needs to let Tony go to a tiger sanctuary. NOW. I’ll never stop fighting for Tony’s freedom!!

  36. Sherri Gillespie says:

    Put this poor tiger in a wild life reserve and stop exploiting it your inhumane creeps.

  37. HHOLLON says:

    We have been fighting this for years as there is no reason for the public to privately own these big cats. Tony the tiger has been caged in a horrible small cage.with fumes and people throwing things at him , and yelling at him for years. THIS IS NO WAY TO TREAT ANY ANIMAL ESPECIALLY A MAGNIFICENT TIGER. THIS IS ANIMAL ABUSE NO MATTER HOW YOU CUT IT AND IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE .HE MUST BE TURNED OVER TO A SANCTUARY AS PER PREVIOUS LAW SUITS DEMANDED NOT TOMORROW BUT NOW! OPPOSE SB 250 AND KEEP THE LA BIG CAT LAW STRONG!

  38. Pat McCue says:

    These majestic animals need more room than any zoo can give them. Keeping them in captivity only makes them more anxious, nervous and apt to rebel. Send Tony to a sanctuary!

  39. Jacqueline Daly says:

    Have been on Tony’s side since he was first posted. So disappointed he’s not in a reputable sanctuary m

  40. Denise LaChance says:

    Let’s see, reasons to not visit Louisiana. High violent crime rate in popular tourist city(ies) Check. Corruption and injustice. Check. Brutality toward and mistreatment of companion and wild animals. Check. Check.

    1. Helen Tanguis says:

      I said the same thing as I waved goodbye. I was born there and tried my best to change some of the thinking in that old country town. Unfortunately, at the expense of many people dedicating many more yrs. than I was willing to fight, I moved. It was with a great deal of sadness. I still campaign for the animals and children, they are voiceless. We are the only ones to stand up and cry ENOUGH. The problem is the, good ole boy’s mentality reigns, as does the Napoleonic laws, and whiskey drinking goes hand in hand. Children and animals have absolutely no rights, and if they have anything to do with it, they never will. Ownership is power to these small minded people. If I had my way, the poor animal would be living in rescue heaven, far from the chicken chasing, hard heads, who put money before anything of any true value, such as self respect. Too bad they have no idea that it is something that cannot be bought no matter how much money they have. I’ve said ENOUGH!!!!!

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