Victory for Tony the Truck Stop Tiger!

Posted on November 1, 2011

January 30, 2012:
Last Monday, Judge Caldwell denied a motion brought by Michael Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop (TTS) that sought to suspend Judge Caldwell’s order while Sandlin and TTS appealed. In other words, Tony would have stayed put at the truck stop until after the appeal ran its course, which could take months. Instead, Judge Caldwell’s order instructing the Department to revoke the permit will go into effect right away. Sadly, this does not necessarily mean Tony is leaving the truck stop soon. Sandlin has filed his own lawsuit against the Department, which has been temporarily restrained from taking any action to remove Tony. Our attorneys are doing everything they can to resolve these conflicting orders to make sure Tony makes his way to a humane, accredited sanctuary as soon as possible. Read here for the latest on Tony’s case.

November 2, 2011: Great news from Baton Rouge, where Judge Michael Caldwell has ruled in favor of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and Louisiana taxpayers in our lawsuit to free Tony the Tiger from the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana.

Judge Caldwell agreed with ALDF’s argument that the permit that allows Sandlin to keep Tony was unlawfully issued by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The judge ordered the Department to revoke the current permit and prohibited it from issuing any new permits to the Truck Stop. “We are thrilled that the court made the right decision,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We will continue to do everything we can to make sure Tony’s next home is a reputable, accredited sanctuary that can give Tony the life he deserves.”

We would like nothing more than for Tony to go to an accredited sanctuary immediately. Unfortunately, the legal system does not always move as quickly as we would like it to, but rest assured we are doing everything we can to get Tony out as soon as possible. The Tiger Truck Stop and the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries have filed post-trial motions which must be resolved before the clock starts running on an appeal.

November 1, 2011

Baton Rouge, La. – Tomorrow morning, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and outraged Louisiana residents return to East Baton Rouge District Court to square off against the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La., where Tony, a Siberian-Bengal tiger, has been confined as a roadside exhibit for over a decade. The same court granted ALDF’s original request for a permanent injunction in May 2011, a ruling that would have prevented the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries from renewing in December the annual permit that allows Michael Sandlin, owner of the Tiger Truck Stop, to keep Tony on display. In August, the Louisiana Court of Appeals ruled that Michael Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop must be named as defendants in the lawsuit and ordered a new trial, vacating the trial court’s earlier decision. In addition to this new trial, the Court will consider a motion by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to contest the plaintiffs’ standing to bring the lawsuit to free Tony.


Wednesday, November 2, 9:00 a.m.

East Baton Rouge District Courthouse
Room 8B (Judge R. Michael Caldwell’s courtroom)
300 North Boulevard, Baton Rouge

Since ALDF filed its original lawsuit in April 2011, it has argued that the Department violated state law in granting the permit to Michael Sandlin. In tomorrow’s hearing, the Court will again hear ALDF’s argument that Sandlin’s permit to own and display Tony should be invalidated, and that Tony should be released into the custody of ALDF or an accredited animal sanctuary where he can receive care and treatment and live out his life in a more natural environment, free from the 24-hour exposure to noise and diesel fumes and the taunts of visitors. ALDF is requesting both a permanent injunction, which would mean the state could not renew Sandlin’s permit in December, and a mandatory injunction, which would require that Sandlin’s current permit be revoked. The Court may choose to issue a decision in the case immediately following the hearing.

Tony has been on exhibit at the Tiger Truck Stop since 2000; he has lived there with no other tiger companions since 2003. ALDF’s lawsuit to free Tony has drawn the support of high profile advocates like Leonardo DiCaprio and True Blood’s Kristin Bauer and has galvanized activists around the world. The law offices of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz, P.C. are providing pro bono assistance with the lawsuit.

“The Animal Legal Defense Fund is confident that the trial court got the law right the first time around and will again make the best decision for Tony,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We would like nothing more than for Tony to spend this New Year’s in the comfort of an accredited sanctuary that is far better equipped to meet his basic needs and to give him the kind of life he deserves.”

40 thoughts on “Victory for Tony the Truck Stop Tiger!

  1. Roberta bown says:

    Oh please stop him from wasting time – Tony needs to be free from this hell hole.

  2. Sky Williamson says:

    Thank You ALDF for fighting for TONY. Looks like Sandlin has filed an appeal which I guess was expected but sad to say the least. Tony sits and waits again. GW Exotic in OK is trying to get “donations” in the amount of $120 thousand “for Tony’s COMPOUND” yet another person trying to profit off of Tony’s misery. To all the people out there across the world fighting for TONY, it’s not over yet but please don’t give up on TONY, you are all he has.

  3. Tresa says:

    I agree, how much longer do we have to wait? Free Tony now to reputable sanctuary & let him start living the rest of his life, “Happy”.

  4. GLORIA says:


  5. ALDF is well-aware of the allegations of horrendous conditions at G.W. Exotic Animal Park. Our attorneys are researching various legal strategies for ensuring that Tony goes to a reputable sanctuary, not a roadside zoo.

  6. Kurt Schmitt says:

    Finally, Tony gets out of jail! Thank you! Send him to Big Cat Rescue here in FL!

  7. Carol Reins says:

    Free him now! This is ridiculous…the stalling and the appeals…FREE HIM for god’s sake.

  8. Margaret says:

    ALDF – YOU ROCK! Thank you for kickin ass and takin names! God bless you and may you have a wonderful holiday season knowing what lasting and permanent good you have done.

  9. Ricky says:

    Hello All and Pray for Tony to be free soon , And many Thanks to Animal Legal Defense Fund You Rock!!!!! TONY WILL BE FREE!!!!!

  10. Ricky Ray says:

    I am willing to take tony Back to his own Country I will pay all expence No one will be out a dime I will pay for all of it, Tony needs to go back to his Native Land. Like Chrisistan The lion what a Beautiful story about chrisistan the lion check it out on you tube its like a story out of the bible.
    I dont live very far from where tony is I am here to help .R Ray animal Lover. Animals need to be free not at a road side Trash Truck Stops.

  11. Doreen says:

    Is there any new information to be shared?

  12. Renee Boteilho says:

    Thank God we all got together and signed those petitions! I’m extremely happy that Tony will be free FINALLY! Thanks to all the animal activists and Animal Legal Defense Fund where once again a victory was made. Tony needs a large, free, comfortable grassy area to roam with other tigers. Thank you Leonardo DiCaprio for your help. RIGHT ON!!!!

    Renee Boteilho

  13. Renee Boteilho says:

    Free Tony now and place him a beautiful large grassy land with other tigers where he is free to roam!

  14. Congratulations for your work.
    Let’s hope you can find a sanctuary for the tiger as soon as possible.

  15. Patt says:

    Thank you so much for all your hard work to free Tony. I highly recommend the following sanctuary for Tony to live the rest of his life. Ark 2000 CA Pat and Ed are truly the best people to care for him.

  16. Eva says:

    Is Tony still at the truck stop? Where is he now? He needs to go to a sanctuary with other cats now. Big cat rescue in Florida would be good. No zoos or to people who would use him for profit again. I am heartbroken he suffered for so long. Will Sandlin be punished I hope.

  17. Jacqueline Brake says:

    This story on Tony The Tiger has really touched my heart. I have been praying for him since i first read of the conditions he is living in. God answers prayer. Not only do all of us need to continue to donate to his freedom, but to pray for him each and every day. He deserves to be free, and live in an environment that meets all his needs. I saw a vision of Tony walking down the ramp of a cage, and going to his new home to live. I will never give up hope for him. ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE WITH GOD. GOD BLESS YOU, TONY. AND ALDF, GOD BLESS YOU FOR THE WONDERFUL THING YOU ARE DOING TO HELP TONY LIVE A BETTER LIFE.

  18. Trish says:

    Where is he now? Still imprisoned at the Truck Stop? When will be be free to roam with others of his kind????

  19. Vicky Semones says:

    As we enter this potentially auspicious 2012 new year, we are holding Tony in our hearts and thoughts. We are so proud of ALDF’s efforts – but please give us an update on what is happening to release Tony ASAP. Enough already of the awful treatment of this wonderful animal. What will it take to give him the carefree, abundant life he deserves? What else can WE do to help?

  20. Stormy says:

    Who is paying for all the legal fees for this case?

  21. Christina Bombard says:

    I’m very glad and much more at ease to hear the news! But, is Tony free yet??

  22. Lesley Draper says:

    There is an AMAZING sanctuary in Colorado that rescues big cats, bears, wolves, panthers, etc. They have many acres of land where they can roam. Tony needs to be there!! They recently rescued many lions from a horrible situation in Mexico. Now thay have acres to roam and play and they can feel the earth under their feet for the first time in their lives. These animals deserve so much more than a tiny cage in a road side stand!!

  23. AmandaM says:

    Great appreciation of all ALDF’s efforts to free Tony. Until he is actually re-homed to a big cat sanctuary he is still in danger. Until all reviews and appeals are heard Tony continues to languish in his cage. Tony should be permitted “time-served”, at least as much as many criminals are granted. Appeals can drag on for years, this incarceration needs to end, because Sandlin and his pals cant be trusted.

  24. Maria S. Cantwell says:

    As a strong supporter of ALDF, I am happy and pleased to hear about your efforts to free Tony. In the meantime, I would be happier to see Tony placed temporarily at a sanctuary for BIG cats until he is ready to be moved to his new and permanent home for BIG cats. Please get Tony out of that cage!

  25. tracey says:

    Turpentine Creek in the Ozarks.

  26. tara davison says:

    Thankyou ALDF I am just praying that Tony will be free from the terrible cage soon.
    Bless you all

  27. Ross Stocks says:

    I regret signing this petition. I forgot to do due diligence and research this matter beforehand. I let my emotions get the better of me.

    I’m a major advocate for animal welfare. I’ve participated in spaying/neutering and vaccinating over 12,000 feral cats over the past decade. For several years I was heavily involved in breeding and caring for horses. I’ve seen the best and the worst that animals are subjected to.

    All my experience tells me that what I’m able to learn about this tiger is that it is loved and being well cared for by responsible owners, and that it would be wrong to remove him from his lifelong companions and caretakers.

    I think our efforts would be better directed at helping the owners bring about improvements to his compound.

  28. kim harkin says:

    Please get poor Tony out soon….the poor thing is suffering while they greedy owners stall this out in the legal courts. I am praying for relief as soon as possible. ALDF – THANK YOU FOR HELPING SAVE TONY and others <3

  29. debbie says:

    YEAH for Tony!!! I live in Louisiana and have always felt it was cruel and inhumane what they did to the poor tiger!! Glad to hear it!

  30. Dawn says:

    Ross Stocks appearly you didnt research very well. The man that owns Tony cares about one thing and thats his money ticket.This man claims to care about Tony yet he lets his pride get in the way of Tony living out his retirement being a tiger. Tony deserves to be with other tigers. To be able to run and lay in the grass enjoy the rest of his days in peace and quite. Sadly people like you are the reason Tony and other tigers are kept in cages.May you never have to suffer like this tiger has.

  31. Janet says:

    JUDGEMENT DAY IS COMING ! What will YOU say when God the Father asks you why did you treat my animals the way you did ? No excuse will do. Then your hell will be to live out eternity in a cage like Tony is doing. Sleep while you can.

  32. Vicky Semones says:

    Bless the attorneys doing such wonderful probono work on behalf of Tony the Tiger. Surely there must be some ordinance like a medical certification of animal abuse/cruelty that could be used to remove him NOW? Failing that, can we BUY him from the truck stop owner in order to get Tony to an animal sanctuary now? I’d donate to that. And, has anyone thought about bringing adverse publicity to the truck stop owner through national media? What more can WE do???

  33. ilse singer says:

    it is now Aug 2nd …is Tony still being held at the truckstop?? is he even still alive? I have been hoping for updates and have seen nothing in months ..please let us know

  34. D Weiler says:

    Is Tony still alive? I think The Wildlife Sanctuary in Minnesota would be a great place for him. He doesn’t belong in a gas station!

  35. Angela V says:

    Please let us know what we citizens can do. I have signed the original petition. Would additional petitions help? Would typed, professional letters to Louisiana officials help? How about a campaign to donate for his release? Additional press releases/media coverage? I will do what I can and will urge my friends and family to do the same. It kills me to know he is still at this truck stop.

  36. Kathryn DeLongchamp says:

    Reading through the comments that were so exuberant last fall when the permit was revoked, and here we are one year later and Tony still languishes in his manmade hell. Legal relief is never swift. It is so tempting to get discouraged, but as someone said further back, we cannot give up. It is not a choice because “we” and ALDF are the only voice Tony has. “We” continue to gain in numbers, and power, and we will be heard so long as we continue to be his voice and never go silent and never turn a blind eye on the massive cruelties and injustices inflicted on our animal brethren. Right WILL triumph and Tony WILL be granted his God given birthright to live free. There is a new day dawning for animal rights–a movement that should have been included in humanitarian causes from the beginning and for some reason was not. Much work remains. Keep making noise!! Free Tony!

  37. Christina Babst says:

    It makes me sad when I read the headline
    “Victory for Tony the Truck Stop Tiger”
    after the judge revoked the license.
    Unfortunately the legal wrangling still goes on and that poor Tony is still sitting in this hell hole of a Truck Stop. Will he ever feel
    grass under his feet? Why can’t he be removed from there and go to the wonderful PAWS in Northern California?

  38. Deborah Kingston says:

    Tony is being held without a permit.
    It is now November 10, 2012
    What is stopping his transfer to sanctuary?

  39. Gaia Little says:

    What is Tony’s Statis? He was to be free in December 2012?

  40. Trooper says:

    Why did ADLF not mention anything about Mike 6 on LSU’s campus which is in Baton Rouge too?

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