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

A couple of months ago, I posted about Tony the Siberian Bengal tiger who sadly resides at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La., as nothing but an attraction for his owner Michael Sandlin.

Previously, Sandlin was violating a public ordinance that prevents people from owning and displaying wild and exotic animals. This also prevented the state’s Wildlife and Fishery Department from granting him a permit to own Tony. When they gave Sandlin 30 days to find Tony a new home, he instead filed a lawsuit.

Unfortunately for Tony, the Iberville Parish Council decided to amend the ordinance making it legal to keep a tiger, instead of enforcing their own laws, meaning Tony isn’t going anywhere.

Tony’s still got some champions, including fellow Care2 member Sky Williamson, who have joined forces with Big Cat Rescue in their efforts to see him moved to their accredited wildlife preserve, and they have not given up fighting for him.

From the last postWilliamson, who stumbled upon the truck stop started fighting for Tony in 2005, calls Tony’s living situation animal cruelty on display. “I will never forget that day,” she said. “It took me down to my knees. There were 15 big trucks lined up nearby, all of them running. The smell was horrid. There was feces all over the cage.”

Sandlin, and others on his side argue, in the spirit of let’s leave well enough alone, that this is the only home Tony’s ever known, so he’s better off staying at the truck stop where he is a loved member of the family. If that’s a valid argument, then one could also say that a puppy mill is the only home some dogs have ever known, so they’re better off staying there too, which obviously makes no sense.

Sandlin also says he’s kept tigers there for over 20 years without incident. What he conveniently fails to mention is 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.

Those USDA violations sure do scream loving home, don’t they?

The ordinance was amended with conditions that Sandlin improve Tony’s living space.  However, according to Williamson, no changes have been made to actually improve Tony’s conditions, except for repainting his cage, which is obviously pretty worthless.

Additionally, the state’s Wildlife and Fishery Department has not issued Sandlin a permit, which means he can keep Tony in the conditions he’s living in indefinitely.

Regardless of whether or not Sandlin makes any improvements, a truck stop is no place for a tiger!!!

You Can Help!!!

Please take a moment to speak up for Tony by sending an email to the following people:

J. Mitchell Ourso, Iberville Parish President: jburleigh@ibervilleparish.com

Maria Davidson, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries: mdavidson@wlf.louisiana.gov

Send a letter to Governor Bobby Jindal here


creative commons


6 years ago

Rhonda your like a horror show go find something better to do; better yet go educate yourself at least a little.......................

mary l.
mary l6 years ago

You greedy bastard let them animal go to a sanctuary

Harold H.
Harold H6 years ago

Get the poor animal out of the truckstop.

Beverly G.
bev g6 years ago

ROBYN M, im in total agreement with you. LET TONY be FREE, he was born to roam FREE.

Robyn MacDonald
Robyn M6 years ago

My heart bleeds to hear stories like Tonys'. I trulu hate those choose to take ownership of such creatures who really do not belong to anyone. Thet were put here for us to admire their strength and beauty.
Let this big cat live out the rest of his days in peace! Has he not been tormenteted enough?

Cynthia T.
Cynthia T6 years ago

To Rhonda - Look at the other side? You honestly feel that Tony has a better life IN a cage at a truck stop than in a sanctuary?? Unbelievable. Let's look at the BIGGER picture. Do you approve of exotic animals being bred and raised by humans for profit? How about yanking animals out of their native habitat just for human greed? Is that OK? Animals belong IN THE WILD and NOT IN CAGES. As for your labeling of animal activists as 'animal terrorists', where did you come up with that one? You DO know the difference between an ACTIVIST and a TERRORIST, right? I think your lack of compassion and indifference for animals is troubling, to say the least. I certainly hope that if you have children, you don't teach them your views as Gospel, for they will be doomed to repeat your insensitivity and all animals will be in harm's way.

Rhonda B.
Rhonda B6 years ago

if Tony was being mistreated. These animal terrorists need to find some puppy mills to raid. And what business does a group like the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which is based in California or Oregon have meddling with a tiger in Louisiana??? None I would say. Tony Sandlin was grandfathered in when the law was changed. Michael has followed every request by Fish and Wildlife and the parish that he was asked to do. Yet Sky and Carole just persist in their junk. They need to shut up and get a real job. And anyway, how does Sky get her living expenses???????? I am neither an employee nor a relative of Michael Sandlin or Tiger Truck Stop. I am not being paid for my comments in any way. I am using my constitutional freedom of speech to right this wrong and before anyone else signs this petition they need to look at the other side.

Rhonda B.
Rhonda B6 years ago

All the stuff about Tony Sandlin being mistreated are efforts for Big Cat Rescue and other animal terrorists to raise funds at his expense. Sky Williamson has been a thorn in the flesh of Michael Sandlin, Tony's human, for years. She also tried to terrorize Tony and made him growl. Michael is a Christian businessman and an ethical community minded individual whose family has raised tigers for generations. He provides jobs and services for the citizens of Iberville parish and throughout America because he provides supplies truck drivers need. He is also an excellent gospel singer deeply involved in his church. There have even been some former animal terrorists who have now come to his side. But Sky? she called Michael's employees "inbred" when they went to court in Iberville Parish. I mean that, she went so far as to insult their mamas!!! In Louisiana, a place where families are important!!

The fact is that Tony Sandlin has a large home, a swimming trough (which he does not choose to use) an AIR CONDITIONED AND HEATED DEN, grass, toys, climbing devices, grass, a deep freezer full of the ideal diet for a tiger and REGULAR HUMAN CONTACT SUCH THAT HE HAS HAD ALL HIS LIFE. He even gets his belly scratched when he wants it. He has more space than the tigers at Big Cat Rescue and Michael as room to expand to 40 acres if needed. He also gets regular veterinary care. To tell the truth, Michael attends such an animal loving church that the members would get after him

liz j.
liz j6 years ago

of course.... no question

Eileen Novak
Eileen Novak6 years ago

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!