Group files another truck-stop tiger lawsuit

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NEW ORLEANS — An animal-rights group filed suit Thursday against Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, seeking to have the tiger long displayed at a Grosse Tete truck stop sent to a wildlife sanctuary.

Video courtesy of my dear friend & animal warrior Cloversweed

http://www.youtube.com/user/cloversweed 

“In the video, do you see the water trough behind Tony, that’s in the den at the left side of the enclosure? That pitiful algae filled horse trough, is what Mr. M Sandlin refers to as ‘Tony’s beautiful pool’…yes I said Pool;  there is no evidence to suggest Tony has ever been in that trough, to play or cool down, not even when Baton Rouge had some of their hottest day’s on record;

 “On the actual news page, in the comments section, someone wrote they couldn’t see any dirt tracks along the edge of the cage to suggest Tony paces back & forth…. I guess the commenter  has never seen any of Cloversweeds’s Videos. They all clearly show pacing tracks that suggest stereotypical behaviour; in fact most of her video’s show Tony’s pacing back & forth.” 

Please Sign This Petition To Ensure Tony Goes To A Reputable Accredited Sanctuary – Not A Roadside Zoo

Visit http://freetonythetiger.wordpress.com/ for all the background facts about Tony.

The suit by the Animal Legal Defense Fund said the department has refused to confiscate the animal from Tiger Truck Stop Inc. and truck-stop owner Michael Sandlin. It urged a judge to order local law enforcement agents to take that step.

The lawsuit filed in state District Court in Baton Rouge is the latest by the group involving a Siberian-Bengal tiger mix named Tony, a popular attraction for motorists along Interstate 10 near Baton Rouge.

State District Judge Mike Caldwell ruled in November the truck stop’s permit was invalid because state law lets only individuals own big cats. He ordered the department to revoke the permit.

“The permit has expired, because the state was ordered by the court not to renew it. (Sandlin) is now exhibiting the tiger without a permit,” Lisa Franzetta, spokeswoman for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said Thursday.

The judge hearing Sandlin’s separate challenge to Louisiana’s big-cat regulations has handed down a temporary order against moving the tiger, said Bo Boehringer, spokesman for the department. He said he could not comment on the suit filed Thursday because the department has not seen it.

Stephen LeBlanc, who represents Sandlin in the case that was before Caldwell, said he is not representing Sandlin’s claim that the regulations are unconstitutional. He said he has asked the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal to overturn Caldwell’s order, and the department agreed not to enforce it in the meantime.

The judge refused to suspend his order during the appeal, LeBlanc said, but did order Wildlife and Fisheries to pay all court costs, including Sandlin’s. He said the department agreed to hold off enforcement in exchange for Sandlin’s offer to waive court costs.

Tony’s 3,200-square-foot cage is eight times the size of one that held Louisiana State University’s Mike the Tiger mascot from 1936 to 1981, LeBlanc said.

Sandlin has had seven other tigers over 22 years at the truck stop off I-10, about 30 miles west of Baton Rouge.

“My client has a better record of no escapes than LSU, because Mike the Tiger has been let out,” LeBlanc said.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, in a separate filing Thursday, asked to become part of Sandlin’s lawsuit against the state.

Sandlin did not answer a request for comment, but his website is vehement.

“Animal activists from out of state are trying to send our hand-raised, never-in- the-wild family member to a wild-game preserve somewhere,” it says.

“They claim he is endangered here,” it continues, “BUT HE WILL BE THERE!!! Thousands are spent on Tony every month at the Tiger truck Stop — The nonprofit shelters cannot afford to give tony the quality of food and care he receives now.”

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