Battle to Free Truck Stop Tiger Continues


The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit on Thursday against Lousiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) to have Tony, the 11-year-old tiger who’s been living on display at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La., moved to a sanctuary.

The ALDF sued the LDWF and its secretary Robert Barham on Tony’s behalf last year arguing that granting Tony’s owner, Michael Sandlin, a permit in the first place violated state law. Judge R. Michael Caldwell granted the ALDF’s request for a permanent injunction against the LDWF, preventing them from renewing the annual permit that allows Sandlin to keep Tony.

Unfortunately that decision was overturned because Sandlin was not part of the lawsuit. In November Judge Caldwell ordered the LDWF to revoke Michael Sandlin’s permit to keep Tony and bar him from obtaining another permit in the future. Tony’s advocates, who have been fighting this issue for years, cheered the decision …it seemed like he would finally be free.

Oddly enough, Sandlin’s permit expired at the end of December, yet Tony is still stuck in his concrete prison because Sandlin appealed the decision and nothing can be done until the appeals process is complete.

The ALDF’s new lawsuit is seeking to have the LDWF report Sandlin to local law enforcement for violating a 2006 ban on private ownership of big cats, which Sandlin is currently challenging.

“The state of Louisiana has explicit regulations designed to protect tigers like Tony, and the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is required to enforce them,’’ said Stephen Wells, ALDF’s Executive Director.

“The court has already granted Tony and ALDF a victory by ruling that Michael Sandlin’s permit to display Tony was illegal. Sandlin, now without a permit, cannot be allowed to continue to exploit this tiger with impunity,’’ he said.

If Sandlin loses his appeal, he will have 30 days to move Tony to a sanctuary.


Related Posts:

Victory! Tiger Truck Stop’s Permit Revoked

Truck Stop Tiger Ruling Overturned

Lawsuit Filed to Free Truck Stop Tiger

Days Left to Help Save Truck Stop Tiger

Catfight Ensues Over Tony the Tiger

Photo credit: frankenspock


Teresa W.
Teresa W3 years ago


diana Parker
diana P3 years ago

forgot i'd get cut off.

Sandlin claims to have spent about $250,000 fighting to keep Tony. "It’s become more of a liability than an asset. But it’s not the money. It’s the principle.”

Sandlin is looking for a "retirement home" for Tony. no, really. in spite of his arguments that Tony is "used" to the truck and the people, and that it is all he's every known, and THAT IT WOULD BE CRUEL TO FORCE HIM TO LEAVE.....Sandlin is looking for somewhere to send Tony.

he's looking at a "sanctuary" in Oklahoma run by a guy who calls himself "Joe Exotic." it doesn't bother Sandlin a bit that this "sanctuary" is being investigated by federal officials for the deaths of 23 tiger cubs.

the organization Big Cat Rescue (think that's the one) has offered, for many years, to provide Tony a home in their sanctuary.

i was wondering how Sandlin could afford to keep fighting. (he's currently appealed to the LA Supreme Court. cause, you know, principle and he loves animals.) scrolling thru the comments, i see one of the problems.

people like Kati T, who always give money when they stop by because she wants to make sure that Tony can stay in "his wonderful home for the rest of his hopefully long life." how sweet.

diana Parker
diana P3 years ago

um....they could have updated this story. i had to go digging to find recent news.

in April 2014, the LA senate voted down a bill that would have allowed Sandlin to keep Tony at the truck stop. the bill was introduced by rick ward, a senator who said he visited the truck stop as a boy and said "the Sandlins have a good track record of caring for the animals, as far as he knows..."

the vote was 19-18. Ward can introduce his bill again, and has said he will. will any of the unenlightened 18 learn anything in the meantime?

so...Sandlin had his state permit revoked in 2011. he appealed that decision, and also filed a lawsuit challenging a state law that puts limits on "big exotic cat ownership."

the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal ruled in April 2014 against Sandlin. i don't know which case it was though.

then this ward boy introduced his senate bill, which was narrowly defeated in April 2014. but Sandlin continues to fight, saying, basically, he treats his animals good and it would be "cruel" to make Tony move now.

Sandlin got Tony around 2000. in 2005, Sky Williamson saw Tony and started fighting for his release and began the "Free Tony the Tiger" campaign. the NY Times has covered this story (March 2013):

Sandlin still has a FEDERAL permit. he claims to have spent about $250,000 fighting to keep Tony. "It’s become more of a liability than an a

adi Ra
adi Ra3 years ago

people are cruel and selfish

Chris C.
Chris C3 years ago

This fight has been going on for what seems like forever! I will pray for Tony's release to a sanctuary SOON and an END to roadside zoos!

anne r.
Tom R3 years ago

The owner of Tony the Tiger has appealed and still has him. The Department of Agriculture needs to removed Tony (the tiger) from this truck stop and owner immediately and take him to a santuary. This has been going on to long and this wild animal has suffered too much here. HELP TONY get free. Until he gets transferred and removed, he will stay in a cage forever.

Alan Lambert
Alan Lambert3 years ago

Excellent news that the permit has been pulled. Hope there's a good sanctuary available

Cosmic Sky
Sky Price3 years ago

Thx. Seeing that this has been fixed

Lisa Wood
Lisa Wood3 years ago

I don't understand how this happened in the first place!

Stacey M.
Stacey M5 years ago

I cannot understand how the law allows this man to do this to the tiger. It's sick and shameful!