Animal Legal Defense Fund Demands Feds Recognize Tony the Tiger as an “Individual” Protected by the Freedom of Information Act
Appeals USDA’s Denial of Expedited Processing of FOIA Request
BATON ROUGE, La. – The Animal Legal Defense Fund has filed an administrative appeal, urging the United States Department of Agriculture to recognize a captive tiger as an “individual” whose physical safety is at risk and to expedite the group’s public records request. The Animal Legal Defense Fund is seeking records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) related to the health and well-being of Tony the Tiger, who has been confined at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete for 16 years.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund sought expedited processing, which FOIA requires when delayed disclosure “could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual,” namely Tony the tiger. The USDA erroneously denied the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s request, asserting that Tony is not an “individual” because the term applies only to humans.
But the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s appeal demonstrates that Tony the Tiger is an “individual” within the plain meaning of that term. Merriam-Webster defines “individual” as “a particular being or thing as distinguished from a class, species or collection,” which Tony certainly is. Merriam-Webster even includes a usage example specific to a tiger: “[t]he markings on tigers are unique to each individual.”
“Federal law recognizes a strong public interest in protecting the interests of non-human animals,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “It is troubling that the USDA, an agency charged with protecting the interests of animals, has erroneously excluded animals from the scope of a provision intended to allow prompt public access to information in situations where it might help safeguard the safety or life of the very animals the USDA is responsible for protecting. When animals’ lives are on the line, the American people have a right to speedy access to information that might prevent suffering.”
Earlier this year, a court ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to release previously redacted information relating to hen living conditions on several factory egg farms. Our request sought inspection reports of factory egg farms in Texas.May 8, 2019 News
Award-winning music icon Tanya Tucker is joining forces with the Animal Legal Defense Fund to urge families to avoid roadside zoos. After a recent visit to Special Memories Zoo, Tucker was so disturbed by the conditions, she felt compelled to stand up.April 9, 2019 Press Release
Join Tanya and the Animal Legal Defense Fund by sending a brief message to the USDA, urging the agency to investigate Special Memories Zoo today.April 9, 2019 Action Alert