Fayetteville, N.C.: Despite the fact that the permit issued to Michael Sandlin, owner of Grosse Tete’s Tiger Truck Stop, to exhibit Tony the “truck stop tiger” expired last December, he has continued to keep Tony on public display, in open violation of state law.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund and other interveners seeking to defend the state’s law banning private ownership of big cats were buoyed recently when a District Judge agreed that the ALDF and two Louisiana residents can be parties to the lawsuit filed by Sandlin, against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. ALDF can now participate in all steps of the litigation as it moves forward to force the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to do its job of enforcing Louisiana’s big cat ban. “The Sad Tale of Tony the “Truck Stop Tiger” By Jeffrey Flocken, 5/14/2012: Laws that govern the private ownership of big cats vary widely from one state to another but they do have one thing in common—they’re not enough to protect big cats in private hands. Some 10,000 to 20,000 big cats are kept captive by private owners in the U.S., and they aren’t in zoos but in backyards, basements, garages, sheds and even truck stops. Tony, a 10 year old tiger, has been kept every single day of his life at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana. Living at a truck stop is no life for a tiger; Tony is subjected to noise and diesel fumes from trucks and kept in a concrete cage with no adequate enrichment or escape from the elements, resulting in constant stress. Ten years of living at Tiger Truck Stop have taken a toll on Tony’s health, according to experts. The good news is that Tony’s permit expired in December of 2011 and hasn’t been renewed. The bad news is Tony is still being kept at the truck stop in violation of Louisiana law because the judge ruled that the Department has discretion whether or not to enforce Louisiana’s law on big cats. Tony’s owner sued the State of Louisiana claiming that the law against private ownership of big cats was unconstitutional. There is no reason that Tony or big cats like him should be left to suffer in such conditions due to squabbles over state laws and poor enforcement. Tony should be roaming the Savannah not cooped up in an iron cage with a concrete floor enveloped in diesel fumes. A nationwide solution like the Federal Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act, H.R. 4122, is needed. Please urge your U.S. Representative to support the passage of H.R. 4122 and protect tigers like Tony!