Court Will Rule on Standing of Tony Supporters to Fight for Him in Court, Will Once Again Decide His Fate
Baton Rouge, La. – Tomorrow morning, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and outraged Louisiana residents return to East Baton Rouge District Court to square off against the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La., where Tony, a Siberian-Bengal tiger, has been confined as a roadside exhibit for over a decade.
The same court granted ALDF’s original request for a permanent injunction in May 2011, a ruling that would have prevented the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries from renewing in December the annual permit that allows Michael Sandlin, owner of the Tiger Truck Stop, to keep Tony on display. In August, the Louisiana Court of Appeals ruled that Michael Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop must be named as defendants in the lawsuit and ordered a new trial, vacating the trial court’s earlier decision. In addition to this new trial, the Court will consider a motion by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to contest the plaintiffs’ standing to bring the lawsuit to free Tony.
Wednesday, November 2, 9:00 a.m.
East Baton Rouge District Courthouse
Room 8B (Judge R. Michael Caldwell’s courtroom)
300 North Boulevard, Baton Rouge
Since ALDF filed its original lawsuit in April 2011, it has argued that the Department violated state law in granting the permit to Michael Sandlin. In tomorrow’s hearing, the Court will again hear ALDF’s argument that Sandlin’s permit to own and display Tony should be invalidated, and that Tony should be released into the custody of ALDF or an accredited animal sanctuary where he can receive care and treatment and live out his life in a more natural environment, free from the 24-hour exposure to noise and diesel fumes and the taunts of visitors. ALDF is requesting both a permanent injunction, which would mean the state could not renew Sandlin’s permit in December, and a mandatory injunction, which would require that Sandlin’s current permit be revoked. The Court may choose to issue a decision in the case immediately following the hearing.
Tony has been on exhibit at the Tiger Truck Stop since 2000; he has lived there with no other tiger companions since 2003. ALDF’s lawsuit to free Tony has drawn the support of high profile advocates like Leonardo DiCaprio and True Blood’s Kristin Bauer and has galvanized activists around the world. The law offices of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz, P.C. are providing pro bono assistance with the lawsuit.
“The Animal Legal Defense Fund is confident that the trial court got the law right the first time around and will again make the best decision for Tony,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We would like nothing more than for Tony to spend this New Year’s in the comfort of an accredited sanctuary that is far better equipped to meet his basic needs and to give him the kind of life he deserves.”
Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund