Tony, the 10-year-old Siberian Bengal tiger who’s been at the heart of an ongoing catfight over his living conditions at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La., has had his freedom granted!
On Friday, May 6, District Judge R. Michael Caldwell of the East Baton Rouge District Court granted the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s (ALDF) request for a permanent injunction against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), preventing them from renewing the annual permit that allows Michael Sandlin to keep Tony as of this December 14.
Unbeknownst to Tony, he’s garnered the attention of people around the world who have been fighting to have him freed from the concrete cell he’s spent his entire life in for years. Unfortunately, officials have bent the rules and looked the other way when it came to the Tiger Truck Stop.
Despite state laws preventing private ownership of exotic animals, Sandlin was grandfathered in by the LDWF because he owned Tony before the laws were enacted in 2006, leaving Tony, who’s been alone since 2003, stuck.
This April, 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 were co-plaintiffs.
“Today, the law was upheld in the state of Louisiana, which has explicit regulations designed to protect tigers like Tony,” said ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “It is an incredible victory for ALDF, the tens of thousands around the world who have supported this campaign, and most of all, for Tony. We eagerly look forward to the day that he leaves behind the noise and fumes of the Tiger Truck Stop for a new life of freedom that he has never known.”
The ALDF plans to work with the LDWF to find the best home for Tony and will make recommendations on sanctuaries where Tony can live out the rest of his days in an environment that can actually meet his needs.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bladeflyer