How long does Tony the Tiger have to wait?
Five months have passed since the 11-1 vote by the Iberville Parish Council to revise the 1993 ordinance that reads:
"No person shall keep or permit to be kept on his premises any wild, exotic, vicious animal or reptile for display or for exhibition purposes whether gratuitously or for a fee…."
Tony, a 550-pound Bengal tiger born in 2000, has been illegally on display at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete for over eight years, according to this ordinance. However this revision, which took the council less than 10 minutes to decide on, allows Michael Sandlin, owner of the truck stop, to continue to exhibit the tiger in a cage in the parking lot until he can obtain a parish permit to permanently keep the tiger there. However if that permit is received, Sandlin must then request a permit from the state of Louisiana.
Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso, Jr. stated at the February 17, 2009 meeting that he would consider vetoing the revision to the ordinance unless "the owner of the tiger is willing to meet the standards to protect the general public and secondly the welfare of the animal…." Ourso said he would be meeting with Sandlin and make his decision within ten days. And so the council waits.
Attempts to receive a copy of the revision, if it exists, have been made by Sky Williamson, the animal advocate who spearheaded the attempt to have council uphold the original ordinance and have Tony moved to a sanctuary for his own humane treatment, as well as for the safety of the public viewing him. And so she waits.
In an email request to Councilman Ed Reeves, the only member to vote against revising the 1993 ordinance, he said,
"At this time, I do not know of any additional developments concerning Tony the Tiger. I continue to get emails from around the country (and some abroad) with concerns of his condition(s) and habitat." He added that he did not know if any of the "required and agreed upon improvements" have been made. A request has been made for those improvements. And so I wait.
What does this mean for Tony? You guessed it. After eight years in a cage in the parking lot of a truck stop, amidst diesel fumes, harassing spectators who had to be warned by a sign not to throw objects at him, constant interstate highway noises, 100 degree plus temperatures with only a small water trough to stand in, Tony waits.
Author: Teresa Rowell
Teresa Rowell is an Examiner from New Orleans. You can see Teresa's articles on Teresa's Home Page.
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