Tony the Truck Stop Tiger Defended by Animal League Defense Fund

The battle over an Iberville Parish truckstop owner keeping a 550-pound Bengal-Siberian tiger in a 700-square-foot enclosure is in court in Baton Rouge Thursday.

Michael Sandlin

The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed suit against Louisiana Department Wildlife and Fisheries last month challenging the agency’s granting of a “Possession of Potentially Dangerous Wild Quadrupeds, Big Exotic Cats and Non-Human Primates” permit to Michael Sandlin in late 2009.

LDWF ruled that Sandlin should be grandfathered in because he owned the cat prior to the enactment of a 2006 state law prohibiting private ownership of big cats and other exotic animals.

But the Portland, Ore.-based group is challenging Sandlin’s legal ownership of the animal citing a 1993 ordinance in Iberville Parish that also prohibits exotic-animal ownership. If Sandlin didn’t legally own the 10-year-old Tony due to the Iberville law, the suit reasons, he cannot legally be grandfathered in and granted a permit from the state.

“Louisiana has explicit regulations designed to protect tigers like Tony, and the department has disregarded state law and misused taxpayer money in arbitrarily granting the permit that allows Michael Sandlin to keep Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells in a press release. “We are heading to court to ensure that Tony is no longer subjected to diesel fumes, harassment and the unimaginable suffering of life in his lonely cage.”

This week ALDF presented LDWF with a petition bearing more than 31,000 signatures urging the state to revoke Sandlin’s license. The animal-rights group’s mission has drawn the support of such high profile advocates as actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Former state Rep. Warren Triche, who authored the 2006 state law banning private ownership of exotic animals, is a co-plaintiff along with two state residents. A Baton Rouge law firm is providing pro bono assistance with the litigation.
Comments (5)

written by Farrow , May 05, 2011
Tony needs to go live the good life at the non-profit Big Cat Rescue in Florida. It has a lot of open space for big cats formerly held in cages. See or its iPod app.

written by NORTHSIDIAN SHOTGUN , May 05, 2011
Wha, ah tiger and a big rat, so what ?
OH, I just noticed Mr Sandlin photo .
A Greaser, how fitting that he would cage a tiger….

written by patricia , May 05, 2011
i really could not agree with the concept that the “tiger is just an animal/property”…that is outdated and ignorant thinking…Tony needs a habitat that is fit for tigers…logs, water to get in…if his owner can not provide him with the habitat he should not have the animal…Further, people should not own exotic, wild animals…most don’t know how to properly keep them and Tony is a pefect example…just because ignorance has been the staple at the truck stop for the last 30-40 years doesn’t make it right or anything that needs to continue…I live near Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida and I really hope Tony gets out of jail and gets to come to BCR.

written by Rhona aka neuterandsay999 , May 05, 2011

Tony is an animal and deserves to be helped against this cruelty. Where is the ASPCA? I was a truck driver and the fumes are awful! I am now disabled with asthma and COPD. The fumes are so bad that enev when driving past trucks on the highways that a lot of people have to close there windows. This is also cruel.
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