Court: Grosse Tete Truck Stop Tiger Must Be Moved

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Tony, the 550-pound Siberian-Bengal tiger, cannot continue to be housed in an exhibit at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, a three-judge panel of the state’s 1st Circuit Court of Appeal ruled Thursday in Baton Rouge.

Will Tony Ever Have The Right To Breath Fresh Air??

But an attorney for truck stop owner Michael Sandlin said Tony will not be moved to a new home soon.

We are going to file for a rehearing at the 1st Circuit. If we lose on rehearing, we’ll be filing an appeal with the Louisiana Supreme Court,” said Jennifer Treadway Morris, Sandlin’s attorney.

Members of the 1st Circuit panel were Circuit Judges J.E. “Duke” Welch and Randolph H. Parro, as well as retired Judge William F. Kline Jr., who serves on the appellate bench by special appointment of the state’s Supreme Court.

The 20-page decision written by Welch upheld a November 2011 judgment by 19th Judicial District Judge Michael Caldwell, who ruled a 2006 state law bars the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries from renewing Sandlin’s permit to house Tony at the truck stop exhibit off Interstate 10.

The appellate panel, however, overturned Caldwell’s decision to allow the nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund to intervene in the civil suit on the side of four Louisiana residents who wanted Tony, now 12, sent to an accredited wildlife sanctuary.

Those four residents are Warren Triche Jr., Brandi J. Sutten, Jennifer Torquati and John Kelleher.

Matthew G. Liebman, a California-based attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said he does not believe the nonprofit organization will appeal the 1st Circuit’s ruling that it should not have intervened in the litigation.

The most important part of the 1st Circuit’s decision was its agreement with Caldwell that state officials cannot renew the permit that allowed Tony to be kept at the truck stop, Liebman said.

“We see this decision as a victory,” Liebman added. “It looks like Tony is finally going to breathe some fresh air.”

Morris, however, noted that Sandlin has a related civil suit pending before 19th Judicial District Court Judge Janice Clark.

Sandlin argues in that suit that a 1993 Iberville Parish ordinance should not be allowed to ban ownership of “wild, exotic or vicious animals for display or for exhibition.”

In his suit, Sandlin adds that he has held a federal permit to keep tigers at the truck stop, just off Interstate 10, since 1988. He argues that a parish ordinance cannot ignore federal rules.

Although the case in Clark’s court remains to be decided, Morris said the 1st Circuit’s decision not to grant standing to the California nonprofit organization in Caldwell’s court is a good sign for Sandlin.

“We beat the Animal Legal Defense Fund” in the first case, Morris said. “That’s a big win.”

News Link:-http://theadvocate.com/home/5811635-125/appellate-court-tiger-must-be

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A Tiger, a Truck Stop And A Pitched Legal Battle

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“Please let me point out, that at no time, have I ever said Tony is abused or cruelly treated. My issue & that of most advocates for Tony, is simply his living enclosure & it’s site at the truck stop. Please see the videos & sign the petition at the end of this post…thank you!”

GROSSE TETE, La. — The American truck stop is a promise of certain reliable’s  a shower, a warm meal, some small talk at the counter, a 24/7 source of diesel, beef jerky and cigarettes

Tony, a Bengal-Siberian tiger, is kept on the premises at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La. Web sites have been created urging Tony’s removal, letters have been written, and public officials have been lobbied

Tony, a Bengal-Siberian tiger, is kept on the premises at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La. Web sites have been created urging Tony’s removal, letters have been written, and public officials have been lobbied

The truck stop here just west of Baton Rouge offers all those things, but as most southern Louisianians know, it has another less standard feature: a 550-pound Bengal-Siberian tiger.

Tony is only the latest in a line of tigers to live here. Thirteen cubs were born at the truck stop, and several adult tigers brought in, including a white tiger named Salena who died of pancreatic cancer in the early 2000s and is now stuffed and sitting in the Tiger Cafe atop the salad bar.

Tony, who is 12 years old, spends his days draped languidly on top of his cinder-block den or pacing around the grass in his 40-foot-by-80-foot caged enclosure on one side of the parking lot, seemingly as unriveted by the truckers as they are by him. “The enclosure gates have been filmed open many times, but Tony often prefers to paces back & forth in his concrete enclosure. His enclosure may be large for a tiger living in a yard, but size is nothing…it’s what’s in it that makes all the difference. There is nothing for Tony to do nor any natural foliage to make it appear more like his natural habitat. Tony does not have a swimming pool, although Mr. Sandlin has been quoted several times, saying it is a pool; it’s a horse feed trough or something similar. Irrelevant of what it is, it’s way too small for Tony to sit in never mind swim; In all the years I have been advocating for Tony’s move, i have never once seen him dip so much as a toe in that water trough & I’ll bet nobody can find any evidence of him being in it (apart from possibly when he was a young cub)!”

He also appears unmoved by his role at the centre  of a costly and complicated legal dispute, pitting claims of property rights against animal rights and prompting regular news reports about his impending removal. The legal fight has gone on for years. Tony remains.

“It’s become more of a liability than an asset,” said Michael Sandlin, 50, who has run the truck stop for the past 25 years. “But it’s not the money. It’s the principle.

The Tiger Truck Stop has long been a thorn in the paw of animal rights organizations and many animal lovers generally. Web sites have been created urging Tony’s removal, letters have been written, public officials lobbied. Robert Barham, the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, described “cases of mail from every state and a host of foreign countries.” Still, he said, state veterinarians sent to inspect Tony invariably returned with reports of good health. “Good, I’m glad some vets have seen him, but was it a routine check or did he have bloods, scans etc. to check his internal organs are not being effected by the air born fumes? I would sure like to see a copy of that report!”

Matthew Liebman, a lawyer for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, based in California, acknowledged that Tony’s situation was not the worst he had ever seen, though he and others worry about the tiger’s constant exposure to exhaust and diesel fumes.

“The bottom line for us is that tigers don’t belong in truck stops,” Mr. Liebman said. “I think it reflects a pretty commodified, objectifying view of animals that we don’t support — that they are objects of entertainment, that they are gimmicks to sell gasoline.

In 2006, the state passed a law that put limits on “big exotic cat” possession, but allowed anyone who owned such a cat at the time to be grandfathered in. Mr. Sandlin, who had kept tigers here for nearly two decades, was granted a permit for Tony. But in a 2011 trial, lawyers for the animal defense fund showed that a parish law that was on the books in 2006 prohibited keeping exotic animals and argued that he should not have been exempted from the new law. The judge agreed and ordered Mr. Sandlin’s state permit revoked.

Mr. Sandlin, who still has a federal permit, has appealed the decision, and has also filed a separate lawsuit arguing that the state law itself is unconstitutional because it is applied unevenly and leaves too much discretion to enforcement officials.

Still, he has been looking for a retirement home for Tony. This search generated its own outcry when he said he was leaning toward a wildlife park in Oklahoma owned by a man who calls himself Joe Exotic, but whose real name is Joe Schreibvogel.

Mr. Schreibvogel’s park has attracted a good deal of controversy itself and is being investigated by federal officials for 23 tiger cub deaths. Although this was found to be tainted formulae.  But Mr. Sandlin said he believed that it provided good care, and did not trust others to know what was good for Tony. “Now with Joe Exotic becoming bankrupt, how will this effect Tony, will Mr Sandlin still prefer to move him their, will he still be able to move him their or will he choose an accredited sanctuary; which Tony deserves. Joe Exotic has been asking for donations to build Tony an enclosure, for some time now. He has been quoted as saying, it would be off the usual track visitors take, so Tony can be private! Yet Mr. Sandlin say’s Tony is used to noise??? I have just found the same article on Joe Exotics new web page; the name of the park has change to The Garold Wayne interactive Zoological Park:-http://www.gwpark.org/Tony-The-Tiger.php

“He’s used to the noise from the Interstate and the trucks,” Mr. Sandlin said. “He’s used to people coming up here and looking at him.”

“To tear him away from this,” he said, breaking off, then added, “I think it would be very cruel because that’s what he’s used to.”

Mr. Sandlin and his opponents see the world rather differently. The phrase “animal rights activist,” particularly if it means someone who would ban the private ownership of exotic animals, is to Mr. Sandlin a disparagement on its face. (A T-shirt for sale in the truck stop store reads “Animal Rights Activists Taste Like Chicken.”)

But he takes no offence when critics deride him as a purveyor of roadside entertainment. He considers himself an ally of the travelling circuses that occasionally stop here, and he allows the elephants to graze out back. “Why when he has plenty land at the back, did he build the enclosure at the front; if it was not for monetary gain?”

The idea of a tiger truck stop had been his father’s, but opening one here seemed particularly apt given that the mascot of nearby Louisiana State University is a tiger. (The university keeps its own tiger, Mike VI, in an enclosure next to the football stadium.) “Yes, & you want to see his enclosure in fact I will post a video of it at the bottom so you can see the difference!”

So in 1988, Mr. Sandlin arrived from Houston with Toby and Rainbow, he a mostly Bengal mix, she a pure-bred Siberian. In 2000, after the sale of a tiger truck stop owned by Mr. Sandlin’s father in West Texas, Toby and Rainbow were joined by Tony and Salena. “But didn’t Toby & Rainbow end up at a tiger sanctuary?”

In the ensuing years, the United States Department of Agriculture issued several citations to the truck stop, among other things for allowing cubs to run loose around the office. Mr. Sandlin paid a fine and sold all the tigers but Tony.

About 35 people work at the truck stop, including a sister of Michael Sandlin’s; a brother-in-law; a niece; a nephew; Mr. Sandlin’s mother, Virginia, who handles billing; and his domestic partner of 26 years, Scott Holbrook, who is the vice president of the truck stop as well as the video poker manager. “No mention of the person that cares for Tony, cleans his enclosure or feeds him then?”

There is also a middle-aged man named Ray Jackson, who buses tables at the restaurant and who will sing on command. Seeing him outside the Tiger Cafe, Mr. Sandlin said the word and Mr. Jackson stopped immediately and sang “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross.”

“People get a kick out of that,” Mr. Sandlin said.

For now, there is the wait for a ruling. An immediate change is unlikely even then, but as a breed, the tiger truck stop’s days may be numbered.

There are certainly some substandard roadside zoos,” Mr. Liebman said. “But this is the only truck stop tiger I know of.”

News Link:http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/28/us/truck-stop-tiger-in-louisiana-stirs-legal-battle.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Petition to send Tony to an accredited Sanctuary:– http://www.change.org/petitions/ldwf-ensure-tony-the-tiger-is-released-to-a-reputable-sanctuary

News from the Animal Legal Defence Fund on Tony:http://aldf.org/article.php?id=1675

UPDATE (15) Aug 11, 2011: Mike VI, the LSU Bengal Tiger Mascot’s HABITAT

My dear friend Cloversweed has around 40 videos of Tony, taken personally with no editing. What you see is what you get. Check out the ones that show no water in the so called pool, & the one with a live kitten sat in Tony’s feed area…Cloversweed has captured a lot of evidence to suggest that  a truck stop is not  the right place for a Tiger to live. Please visit her Channel:-http://www.youtube.com/user/cloversweed

Uploaded on 13 Aug 2011

Mike, the LSU Bengal Tiger Mascot taken Aug 11, 2011
Mike the Tiger has one of the finest habitats in the USA. 
Mike’s HISTORY follows, but first please read the NOTE I have posted below concerning Tony, the “truck stop tiger”.

UPDATE #34 (01.22.13):Tony, “the Truck Stop Tiger”- A Trucker’s Opinion.Vid2

Published on 23 Jan 2013

1. NOTE: You will see ALL TONY in Video One and Tony does not look good at all… http://youtu.be/_oW85GzKEWg
PLEASE READ video description in Video ONE.

2. In this video, Video 2 of 2, Tony had just returned back to his concrete bed and this truck driver came over to try to get a picture. This gentleman also expressed his feelings/concerns about Tony’s situation. I found his views interesting.

3.TONY UPDATE: On Tuesday, February 19, 2013 the courts will hear ALDF’s oral arguments in the appeal to free Tony. 
http://aldf.org/article.php?id=2233#….
*Video ONE has been submitted to our ALDF contact and we certainly hope can be used in this hearing.

UPDATE # 35 (01.22.13):Tony, “the Truck Stop Tiger” Vid 1 OF 2

Update On Tony The Tiger: Still Held At The Truck Stop

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“Oh poor Tony, when will this end? I’m posting this to show the most recent video of Tony, taken at the truck stop in January 2013; by my dearest friend & animal warrior, Cloversweed from You Tube; aka Mary! Mary has brought the public many videos of Tony, showing the raw truth, uncut videos of Tony, as she finds him on each visit. Many people are under the illusion Tony has been released, due to all the petitions & court cases etc. But sadly, that’s not true…yet! He is still in his cage down in Grosse Tete, Louisiana; Tony’s fate lies in the hands of yet more court proceedings between Mr Sandlin & the ALDF (Animal Legal Defence Fund)”. 

I have been advocating for Tony’s release, along with thousands of other people, for years & have posted many stories of Tony along with Mary’s videos on Care2.com! But I must stress that I am in no way insinuating, nor suggesting, that Tony is or has ever been physically abusedI’m sure Mr Sandlin loves Tony as much as he say’s he does. My issues regarding this subject, are that I do not think a tiger, much less any animal, should live at a truck stop, when the enclosure isn’t far from the diesel pumps! Not only does Tony have to cope with the smell, which must be very strong to a tigers nose, he also has to listen to the constant noise from truckers & cars 24/7! As if that’s not bad enough, the busy free-way runs right behind Tony’s enclosure; which must play havoc with a tigers sensitive hearing!”

Tony

Tony in his enclosure

“I think it’s high time Mr sandlin let Tony go to a more suitable sanctuary now. Especially as Tony approaches his older years; somewhere that is better equipped to give Tony a more peaceful home, that resembles the habitat he would have lived in; had he been born into the wild!”

“Tony has lived alone, in that cage since the tiger he shared it with, Selena, died aged 4 of Cancer. Selena is now stuffed & on display within the truck stop restaurant….not what I would want for one of my beloved pets, but each to their own I guess! As already mentioned,Tigers have magnificent hearing & a great sense of smell…so with the diesel pumps & noise, how can Tony ever get any piece? And who knows if any toxic air particles have caused any damage to Tony’s lungs?”

tigers9

Selena in Tony’s cage; before she died of cancer age 4 & was stuffed & mounted above the salad bar in the truck stop restaraunt.

“In the most recent video (below 2013) taken by Mary; someone shout’s out to her, that the tiger has Cancer! WHAT…could this be true, or was he talking about Selina?? Mr Sandlin has replied to Mary’s question (which is in the About section of the video below) he was quoted as saying “Have your veterinarian call me. I would be happy to let him visually inspect Tony, at your expense of course” Please note, he says VISUALLY INSPECT…how can a vet tell the health of an animal just by looking at it!! That’s not the kind of reply one would expect from someone, who is supposed to love their animal as much as Mr Sandlin say’s he does; is it??”

“Visitors, especially young kids, bang on the wire mesh enclosure, shouting & trying to get Tony’s attention, even throwing objects in to rouse him, Mary has caught this type of stupid activity on her video. However, Mr Sandlin prefers to state in news articles, that it is “Animal Activists” who throw rubbish in at Tony…oh please, how silly!! Just like the post cards Mr Sandlin had made about the Truck stop & Tony, along with the slogan “Animal Activists Taste Like chicken”…Well, not to be deterred, Mary actually rang the restaurant, posing as a member of the public, who wanted to know the meaning of the quote! It is so stupid…it can’t be taken seriously!! See the video below & listen to the conversation between Mary (cloversweed) & some lady at the truck stop restaurant…it’s hilarious!!”

Video: Activist Taste Like Chicken:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6Oy0rAEex8

“Since this whole story began, I have never seen any kind of veterinary reports that have been made available to the public, regards Tony health status. But what I have seen, is many USDA violations. Mr Sandlin advocates in newspapers & interviews that Tony’s enclosure is so big, that it’s bigger than some zoo’s enclosures etc. that may be true in some small zoo’s!”.

TONY

“But Irrespective of size, that’s not the issue, poor Tony’s enclosure is nothing like a tigers natural habitat. It’s just one long patch of grass with dens at each end… it was bare, until Tony’s plight was thrust into the public eye, a couple of years ago. It’s still bare, apart from a rubber tyre that was hung recently, due to people’s constant negative comments about his enclosure. But there is no video that I know of, nor any of my friends can find, of Tony ever playing with the tyre! Not surprised, he probably has arthritis, muscle atrophy or something similar from never really exercising;all he does is pace & pace, jump on top of his den, jump down, pace…you get the picture??!”

ttt8

“Mr Sandlin also tells porky pies, saying Tony has a swimming pool to swim in…sorry, but that is so far from the truth, it’s a joke; you will see for yourself in the latest video, below & the picture on the right! Does that look like a swimming pool to you?I’ve seen kids paddling pools that are bigger! Tigers out of all the big cats, love to swim, play or just lay in water, but Tony only has a little horse trough filled with water (which has been filmed empty on many occasions during the hottest day’s of the year) I challenge anyone to find proof of Tony, as an adult, getting in that horse trough & swimming! Perhaps to entice Tony to go in, some wooden steps were made (not in the picture) obviously to make his entrance & exit easier…but they wasted the wood & their timeTony hates it, & hates going anywhere near it!”

Tony looking very thin from behind

Tony looks very thin

“Aside from painting the exterior of the cage (which does sod all for Tony’s boredom) nothing else has changed. It wouldn’t have cost much to place some tree logs or foliage, when it was built, would it? His shelter den is supposed to have air conditioning; yet Mary has videos showing a very large fan pointing towards Tony’s shelter, which has been on during very hot days: why need a fan if Tony’s den has air conditioning?; it either doesn’t exist or is broken?”

“Mary has been taking regular video of Tony for some time now; in all, Tony’s health does seem to be declining. At feeding times, Tony doesn’t seem to get meat on the bone, he gets prepared food that looks like a long piece of sausage or a lump of mince. I can’t actually say I have ever seen him eating anything with gusto!!  But what Mary’s videos do show, is that over all the years behind those bars, what a mundane, repetitive & boring life Tony has. Pacing back & forth on the path, worn out over the 12 years he has been in his enclosure; with absolutely nothing to do or stimulate his mind!”

“After noticing a change in Tony’s walk etc. I sent a video of him to a very high-profile animal behaviour expert, who has written many books on animal studies, with the likes of Virginia McKenna OBE.; but whose name I prefer to keep out of this public façade.  He was in agreement that Tony showed stereotypical behaviour; atypical of any animal at a zoo that goes stir crazy, pacing back & forth, through sheer boredom”.

signs-3

“Tony has brought plenty money into the truck stop over the 12 years he has been there. There is even a sign outside his enclosure asking for donations! Isn’t it about time he was set free, to spend his final years at a proper sanctuary, where he can swim in a lake, hide in bushes, sharpen his claws on trees…all the things wild tigers get to do, that those tigers held captive…can only dream about.”

“There are sanctuaries where he could go across America…I’m not talking about G.W Exotics or Big Cat Rescue as I have heard bad reports about both! Besides they are always in conflict with one another! In fact, I’ve just seen in the news, that Joe Exotic has had to pay a very large sum of money to Big Cat Rescue; something to do with copyright of one thing or another! Mr Sandlin has said on many occasions that if he was forced to move Tony, he would let him go to G.W Exotic…oh please, I hope not. He has been asking for donations to build Tony an enclosure! That was the reason for another petition, asking that Tony be sent to a reputable sanctuary. Joe Exotic (just one of his many alias names) hauls tiger cubs around shopping malls, for photo opportunities with the public; there also seems to be an issue with several cubs that died in his care, which J.E said was down to the milk formula. Well if they were not taken from their mothers so early; they wouldn’t need substitute milk would they? A proper accredited sanctuary does not breed it’s inhabitants, to make money! 

I’m talking about sanctuaries like Tiger Haven, The Wild Cat Sanctuary, The Oregon Tiger Sanctuary or even PAWS…where Tony will have fresh air, be able to run, play, swim & act like a tiger should…it’s not a lot to ask for 12 years of service as a slave is it??”

“Below is part 1 of Mary’s most recent video. To see part 2, & many more videos, just click on Mary’s YouTube link below!”

UPDATE (35) January 22 2013 Part 1 of 2

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

Published on 23 Jan 2013

DATE OF VISIT: Jan 22, 2013 Tues
http://youtu.be/_oW85GzKEWg (Video One)
1. Tony’s appearance begins around the 01:55 minute mark into the video. What the truck driver says prior to this mark has NOT BEEN CONFIRMED TO BE TRUE.

2. Regarding Tony’s health, 2 REPLIES to Facebook from “Sandlin and his team”:

a) This statement received from Mr. Sandlin via his Public Relations person on Jan 24, 2013 Thurs:

“Tony has never been diagnosed with cancer. Tony is doing fine. I have had one tiger that died of Pancreatic Cancer. Salena was just short of 4 years old when she died. She was a white female. Of course, white tigers tend to be more suspect to disease than their counterparts. This is the tiger that the waitress was referring to and Salena is now on display in the restaurant. Also, Tony is not forced to stay on the concrete. He has access to the grassy play area 99% of the time. Thank you for your concern.”

b) THIS IS THE RESPONSE THAT I GET PERSONALLY FROM MR SANDLIN HIMSELF ON Jan 26, Sat:
“Cloversweed, Have your veterinarian call me. I would be happy to let him visually inspect Tony, at your expense of course, and I would also allow him/her to convey any concerns to our Veterinarian, Dr. Shannon Gonsoulin.”

3. This video has been submitted to our ALDF contact and we hope the ALDF can use this video as evidence and argument to the case Feb 19 when the courts hear ALDF’s oral arguments in the appeal to free Tony. 
http://aldf.org/article.php?id=2233#.UQGWxwrbzt0

It is very clear to see Tony needs medical attention. It is no rumour or miscommunication that this video speaks for itself. Anybody else, besides me, notice a significant decline in Tony’s health and well-being? Please comment.

4. COMMENTS POSTED dated Jan 20, 2013 by MistaCruez, referring to my visit Dec 13, 2012, when Tony stayed in his bed all day long. I was at TTS until dark that day. Tony never came out. I must have missed Tony eating breakfast on that day. 

“Hi My name is Travis I live live in Grosse tete my whole life and tony’s been around my whole life and i see tony every day. I love him to death but maybe there’s a time when you have to say bye. What im trying to say is please get him out of here! He looks sicker everyday now he wont even get out his bed. Please Help tony!”

5. VIDEO TWO: a Trucker‘s Opinion; same day Jan 22, 2013
http://youtu.be/RVFzd6jLoTc 

 Please refer to the links below for the most current information regarding Tony’s legal battle to gain freedom to sanctuary:

http://freetonythetiger.wordpress.com/
http://aldf.org
—————————————————————————-
I did have some difficulty keeping Tony in view because the sun was out and it was so bright, just very hard to see. Video was 1080HD but in process of cropping (to remove the black margin), the quality dropped to 720HD. Makes no difference

“Now look at a video taken last year by Mary. You see Tony eating (he doesn’t look that impressed with it) you also get a good look at his enclosure & so-called pool; which is empty…right before someone asks Cloversweed if she is an animal activist…why no, of course she isn’t 🙂

UPDATE ( 30) August 8 2012 Part 1 of 2

Another walk through of Tony’s “habitat” 

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

“Above is Cloversweed AKA Mary’s You Tube Channel, where you can see all the videos she has taken of Tony; including one video where a kitten is actually inside Tony’s enclosure,  tasting bits that Tony must have left in his feeding area! You can hear the alarm in Mary’s voice, thinking that Tony might pounce on the kitten at any moment! But Tony must have been feeling off that day, or just doesn’t have the will to act! He didn’t even attempt to come out of his den to chase the cat; watch the video below!”

Video of kitten in Tony’s enclosure:-

“That just doesn’t sound normal to me, even another tabby cat would have chased another out of its territory; let alone a tiger? To see more of Tony, his behaviour & his enclosure etc. just visit the above link.”

tonysdinner(1)

“Now read the updates…the constant battles between the ALDF & Mr Sandlin. This has been going on for years…Tony is actually at the truck stop illegally & without a permit!! Seriously at this rate, I have my doubts that Tony will ever get out of that cage alive!”

Update: On Tuesday, February 19, 2013 the courts will hear ALDF’s oral arguments in the appeal to free Tony.

The Truck Stops Here…

From the stench of fuel to the drone of diesel engines and the isolation of his roadside prison, Tony, a 12 year-old SiberianBengal tiger, has endured more than a decade of misery at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana. That is why the Animal Legal Defense Fund has taken to the Louisiana courts to free Tony the Tiger from this truck stop nightmare. We won our lawsuit to prevent Tony’s “owner” Michael Sandlin from renewing his permit, but Sandlin appealed, and we are waiting for the Louisiana Court of Appeal to hear the case. Sandlin subsequently filed his own lawsuit to overturn the state’s ban on big cat ownership. ALDF sought to have the case dismissed and is waiting for the trial court to decide if the suit will move forward.

Sandlin has exploited tigers for over 20 years: buying, breeding, selling, and exhibiting tigers in poor conditions for his own profit. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Sandlin’s truck stop in the past for unsanitary feeding practices; mishandling tigers; and failure to provide veterinary care, shelter from inclement weather, clean drinking water, and knowledgeable employees to care for the tigers. In 2003, Sandlin’s animal welfare violations sparked public outcry, and three tigers were removed to a Tennessee sanctuary. The USDA allowed Sandlin to keep one tiger: Tony. He has been alone ever since.

Life at the truck stop is harmful to an animal with such sensitive hearing and acute sense of smell, says veterinarian Jennifer Conrad, who has cared for captive large cats for nearly two decades. After visiting Tony, she declared he is “in poor condition and needs intervention on his behalf.” In addition to exposure to noise and diesel fumes, Tony is taunted by truck stop visitors. His enclosure lacks adequate enrichment. He has no pool of water to cool off in the blazing heat of the summer. As a result of this stressful confinement, Tony constantly paces in his enclosure, putting him at risk for dangerous and painful veterinary conditions.

His suffering demonstrates the problem of privately owned tigers, whose numbers exceed that of wild tigers. There are less than 500 Siberian and only 2,500 Bengal tigers left in the wild. In their natural habitat, tigers live alone, travel many miles to hunt, and avoid humans.

Next Step: We wait while Tony paces

The world waits with bated breath for the results of ALDF’s suit and of Sandlin’s appeal. Meanwhile Tony remains trapped at the truck stop. ALDF’s legal battle for Tony has drawn support from high-profile advocates likeLeonardo DiCaprio and True Blood’s Kristin Bauer van Straten and has galvanized activists around the world. The law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz, P.C. is providing pro bono assistance.

We are currently waiting for the Louisiana Court of Appeal to hear our case. We are also waiting for the trial court to decide if Sandlin’s suit will move forward. Tony’s fate is tied up in the courts, but ALDF is keeping the pressure on.

The following will give you a better understanding on what has been going on.

We will post updates on Tony’s case as they become available.

All updates can be found on Cloversweed channel & the ALDF website

Petition to ensure Tony goes to a reputable sanctuary, not one that breeds tigers, to sell & to haul the cubs  around shopping malls; for public photo opportunities:- http://www.change.org/petitions/ldwf-ensure-tony-the-tiger-is-released-to-a-reputable-sanctuary

News Link:http://aldf.org/article.php?id=2233

“Take a look at the following video, this is where I would like Tony to live out the rest of his days, in harmony with nature; as was intended!”

Uploaded on 3 May 2011

Tigers Raja, Tara and Kali playing together in the water and open space of our natural Tiger Island enclosed area at the Oregon Tiger Sanctuary, Eagle Point OR.

Judge won’t order truck stop tiger’s removal

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A state judge has refused to order the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to remove an 11-year-old tiger from a truck stop in Grosse Tete.

Judge Michael Caldwell ruled Thursday that he cannot order the executive branch to do that. He also ruled that the Animal Legal Defense Fund and two plaintiffs don’t have legal standing to bring up the question.Tony

“There is no legal means for a private citizen to go to a court and ask the judge to order another branch of government to perform what is essentially a discretionary function,” said Jennifer Treadway Morris, attorney for Michael Sandlin and his Tiger Truck Stop Inc.

Lisa Franzetta, spokeswoman for the nonprofit group, said it was considering whether to appeal Thursday’s decision.

In November, Caldwell ordered the department to revoke the permit for a tiger at Tiger Truck Stop.

ALDF sued last month, saying the department refused to confiscate the animal from the truck stop and its owner, Michael Sandlin, because it has appealed Caldwell’s November decision and Sandlin had challenged the constitutionality ofLouisiana’s ban on private ownership of big cats.

“In no way does today’s ruling affect the judge’s previous ruling that Michael Sandlin and Tiger Truck Stop can’t be granted a permit to keep Tony,” Franzetta said. “We were trying to speed up the process of getting Tony away from the truck stop.”

Treadway Morris and attorneys for the Animal Legal Defense Fund will be back in State District Court on Monday. Judge Janice Clark has scheduled a hearing on the group’s request to intervene in Sandlin’s lawsuit.

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