If you haven’t heard of Tony, he’s a Siberian Bengal tiger who is living in a concrete cage at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana, where he is being used as an attraction for his owner Michael Sandlin, whose permit is up for renewal.
The fight over what to do with Tony has been going on for a while. Sandlin was previously violating an ordinance that prevented people from owning or displaying wild or exotic animals. It also prevented the state’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) from issuing him a permit to own Tony. When he was given 30 days to find Tony a new home, he filed a lawsuit.
Despite efforts by Tony’s supporters who want to see him moved to Big Cat Rescue’s accredited sanctuary, he lost in court. The Iberville Parish Council decided to amend the ordinance making it legal to keep a tiger, instead of enforcing their own laws, which meant Tony was stuck.
Since then, more people from around the world have sent thousands of letters and signed petitions asking the LDWF and state officials to get Tony out of there. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has also stepped in and filed a legal petition to revoke, and deny renewal of, Sandlin’s permit to keep Tony on the grounds that it is violating state and Iberville Parish ordinances and that the LDWF’s granting a permit in the first place was unlawful.
“Mr. Sandlin’s failure to keep Tony in an environment that is responsive to both his physical and psychological needs is not only inhumane—it is illegal” said ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We urge the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to comply with already-existing regulations designed to protect tigers like Tony, and to end his daily torment by refusing to sentence him to another year of diesel fumes, harassment, and the unimaginable suffering of life in his lonely cage.”
Sandlin says Tony’s a member of the family and argues that he’s kept tigers there for over 20 years without incident. What he conveniently fails to mention are the tigers that he has had seized and that he has 20 years worth of USDA violations, including unsanitary feeding practices, failure to provide clean water, failure to provide adequate shelter, mishandling tigers, failure to provide veterinary care and the most recent on the list being failure to clean cages and maintain adequate sanitation in 2007.
SPEAK UP FOR TONY!
Sign the WSPA’s petition asking the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries not to renew Sandlin’s permit to keep Tony.
Send a letter to the LDWF and local and state officials.
Get more info on Tony from Big Cat Rescue.