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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Tigers at Truckstops — What's Next, Gorillas at Gas Stations?

Published 08/06/10
By Maggie Graham, Research Assistant

Tony, a 10 year-old Siberian tiger, has been under the unscrupulous care of Michael Sandlin, owner of Tiger Truck Stop Inc., in Grosse Tete, Louisiana for the past decade. Visitors who come to meet him unfortunately are exposed to an animal in cramped conditions, in a cage with cement floors, even during the hot summer months.

Sandlin has exhibited, bred and sold tigers for many years, and even after repeated violations with the USDA for non-compliance with APHIS’s standards of animal care up until 2008, and having to relinquish his other 3 tigers, he is still permitted to keep Tony.

This is because Tony was acquired before August 15, 2006 before the ban to possess exotic cats was established in Louisiana. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries also made the final ruling to let Sandlin keep Tony, after several sanctuaries had offered take the animal and provide a proper habitat. Something is gravely wrong when the government agency established to protect and manage wildlife in this country is acting in opposition to an animal’s best interest.

It is a tragic reality that there are more tigers privately owned than there are in the wild.

For the last ten years, Tony has been one of the unfortunate ones that only know life behind bars – on display at a truckstop. His now numerous supporters have sent in letters, videos, and photos detailing the state of his condition – panting on a concrete floor, behind metal bars, in high summer heat, and losing weight.

He has also exhibited stereotypic behaviors and aggressive gestures toward the public on multiple occasions. Even though he has not known true freedom in his life, it is never too late. The more people that know of Tony’s plight, the more opposition Sandlin will have to face. Perhaps one day he will see the value in letting Tony live out the rest of his days in a sanctuary, free to express natural behaviors.

Born Free USA is sending a letter to Senator Landrieu of Louisiana asking for her support with this situation, and you can do the same!

You can view a clip of Tony at YouTube, and show your support by following his online support groups:

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