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Lawsuit Filed to Free Truck Stop Tiger

Lawsuit Filed to Free Truck Stop Tiger

If you haven’t heard of Tony, he’s a 10-year-old Siberian Bengal tiger living at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La., who’s being kept as an attraction by his owner Michael Sandlin. 

Tony’s life is pretty sad for a big cat. He lives in a concrete cage where he is harassed by visitors and surrounded by lights, the smell of fuel and the sound of diesel engines 24 hours a day seven days a week with nowhere to escape and nothing to do. He’s been alone since 2003. 

Unbeknownst to Tony, who spends his time pacing his cage, activists have been fighting for years to no avail to have him freed and sent to a wildlife preserve.

Despite thousands of letters and signatures on petitions to free Tony and a petition from the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries recently renewed Sandlin’s permit to keep Tony. 

Last week, the ALDF stepped up to intervene on Tony’s behalf by filing a lawsuit against the LDWF and its secretary Robert Barham arguing that granting Sandlin a permit in the first place violated state law. 

Warren Triche, a former Louisiana Representative, who authored the state’s law that led to the ban on the private ownership of tigers and two other residents are co-plaintiffs. 

Sandlin, who has 20 years worth of USDA violations under his belt, was previously violating an ordinance that prevented people from owning or displaying wild or exotic animals. It also prevented the 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.

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.

“The regulations provided an exception, however: individuals who legally owned big cats as of August 15, 2006, were grandfathered in. These owners would need to apply for an annual permit from the LDWF. An ordinance passed in Sandlin’s parish of Iberville in 1993 made it illegal for anyone to keep a tiger or other large exotic cat on his or her premises for exhibition. In other words, Sandlin did not qualify for the exception because he was not in legal possession of Tony. In addition, Sandlin is ineligible for the state’s grandfathering provision because he does not live on the premises where Tony is kept, contrary to regulations,” according to the ALDF.  

“Despite the fact that Sandlin was ineligible for a grandfather permit, the LDWF nonetheless issued him one. ALDF is taking the department to court to invalidate this illegally-issued permit. — and free Tony from his troubled life at the truck stop.”


Sign the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s petition asking the LDWF to revoke Sandlin’s permit.  

Related Stories: 

Days Left to Help Save Truck Stop Tiger

Speak Up For a Big Cat: A Truck Stop is No Place For a Tiger!

Cat Fight Ensues Over Tony the Tiger


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12:53PM PDT on Apr 28, 2012

Firmato e condiviso. TONY libero.

8:35PM PDT on Apr 7, 2012

well I guess people do not realize that for 11 years this cat has been taken care of by his owner, 2nd I guess you think only the state has the right to have a big cat, we as Americans can not only address this issue as 1 incident, if so you are stating that we are ignorant, have no wright to do the same thing that states do all across this country, only allow certain privileged organizations to own something that is loved and wonted by free Americans, Have you seen the cages that these others use, 3 feet longer 3 feet wider, Big cats all over this country do not roam around as you dream about, free, with grass under there feet, set size limits, for shelter and protection, show vet inspections, but do not take away our wrights, because we fill we love these animals as much as your local zoo,

3:57PM PDT on Sep 14, 2011

J G i agree witch u. poor tony.

3:55PM PDT on Sep 14, 2011

EILEEN N i agree ith you. This poor animal has sufferred and is still suffering. He is a wild animal and needs to be able to roam in a bigger environment. This is so cruel to keep an animal like this caged up. Im a BIG animal lover and i have domesticated recscued cats but i let them roam ,as long as i know their safe and they are, I dont like , or wouldent cage any animal. Its not fair, its cruel and inhumane.

9:34PM PDT on Jun 23, 2011

poor tiger

7:54PM PDT on Jun 18, 2011

I just signed another petition to free this animal. But I thought that he was already freed from his confinement ? Have I misunderstood something? Please let me know!

10:41AM PDT on May 17, 2011

If you ever start to think that what you do to help animals here at C2 and elsewhere doesn't matter, think about Tony lying in grass rather than a tiny concrete slab.
Keep up your good works.
It really does matter. Tony thanks you!

5:44AM PDT on May 17, 2011


4:23PM PDT on May 6, 2011

Petition for US residents only.
Voted 'yes!'

12:39AM PDT on May 5, 2011

Cannot for the life of me understand why Louisiana have allowed
this - and all the while this is dragging on and on - the poor animal is getting older and older and sufffering more and more.

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