LDWF: Enforce Louisiana State Law and Ensure Tony The Tiger Is Released To A Reputable Sanctuary
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Tony, a Siberian-Bengal tiger, has lived his thirteen years as a roadside attraction at a truck stop in Louisiana. In two court hearings, May 6th, 2011 and November 2nd, 2011, Judge Caldwell agreed with The Animal Legal Defense Fund (representing Tony) and their argument that the permit that allows his owner to keep Tony was unlawfully issued by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. On May 6th, 2011 Judge Caldwell granted a permanent injunction blocking LDWF from issuing a new permit to Tony’s owner, and on November 2, 2011 he again prohibited the LDWF from issuing any new permits to the truck stop and ordered the current permit revoked.
Despite these two rulings in Tony's favor, he remains at the truck stop due to appeals and yet another lawsuit filed by his owner, most recently on January 2nd, 2012. http://freetonythetiger.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/another-suit-filed-in-grosse-tete-tiger-case/
There have been recent reports about Tony's possible move to an exotic animal park if his owner is forced to give him up. This ”park” is under investigation by the USDA for the deaths of 23 tiger cubs. http://freetonythetiger.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/oklahoma-park-probed-in-tiger-cub-deaths/ This, as well as the conditions and practices of this “park” (which include exploiting tiger cubs in hands-on exhibits and photo ops) is of great concern to Tony's supporters. Tony belongs at a true sanctuary, not another “roadside zoo.” See HSUS investigation here: http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2012/05/ok_exotics_investigation.html
and recent incident here: http://www.fox23.com/news/local/story/Zoo-worker-attacked-by-tiger-in-OK/dWwlhtpYrE-5-O2RDUaLeg.cspx
Please sign this petition asking the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to ensure that Tony is relocated to a reputable humane big cat sanctuary that can provide the home, care and life he needs - and has always deserved.
FOR UPDATES: https://freetonythetiger.wordpress.com/updates/
- Mr. Fred Kimmel
- Ms. Maria Davidson
- Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
- Secretary, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
Secretary Robert J.Barham
I respectfully request that you, as a representative of The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, enforce Louisiana state law: Act 715, and seize Tony, a 13 year-old tiger kept illegally as a roadside attraction at Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana, and ensure he is relocated to a reputable, humane, accredited big cat sanctuary.
On November 2, 2011, Judge R. Michael Caldwell ruled in favor of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and Louisiana taxpayers in their lawsuit to free Tony from the truck stop. Judge Caldwell agreed with ALDF’s argument that the permit that allows Mr. Sandlin to keep Tony was unlawfully issued by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The judge ordered the Department to revoke the current permit and prohibited it from issuing any new permits to the Tiger Truck Stop. Despite this ruling Tony remains at the truck stop due to the appeals and recent lawsuit by his owner.
On April 25, 2013, The Louisiana Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling in ALDF’s case against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for unlawfully issuing Michael Sandlin a permit to keep and exhibit Tony. The Court of Appeals agreed with Judge Caldwell, holding that Mr. Sandlin is ineligible for a permit to keep Tony.
On October 4th, 2013 The Louisiana Supreme Court denied a petition filed by Tony's owner, Michael Sandlin, to review the decision of the Court of Appeal.
Tony continues to be kept and exhibited at Tiger Truck Stop without a permit.
Reports about Tony's possible move to an “exotic animal park,” under investigation by the USDA for the deaths of 23 tiger cubs as well as the conditions and practices of this “park” which include exploiting tiger cubs in hands-on exhibits and photo ops are of great concern to myself and supporters of Tony worldwide.
Clearly this facility does not comply with the following sanctuary criteria as defined by The Captive Wildlife Safety Act:
• Must be a non-profit entity that is tax exempt under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code
• Cannot engage in commercial trade in big cat species, including their offspring, parts, and products made from them
• Cannot breed big cats
• Cannot allow direct contact between big cats and the public at their facilities
• Must keep records of transactions involving covered cats
• Must allow the Service to inspect their facilities, records, and animals at reasonable hours
It is imperative Tony be released to a sanctuary that is humane, reputable and in compliance with the above stipulations. Accredited big cat sanctuaries stand ready to provide Tony with a natural habitat, proper diet, medical care, and enrichment.
Tony represents one of an estimated 5,000 – 10,000 privately owned tigers in the United States whose numbers are greater than tigers left in the wild. Captive tigers can live 15-20 years with quality care. Tony has spent over a decade on display in the unhealthy and unnatural environment of a truck stop.
In 2006, the Louisiana state legislature unanimously passed Act 715, which required LDWF to control the private ownership of big cats. Regulations prohibiting citizens from keeping a tiger as a pet or exhibiting a tiger in the state were enacted. In passing these regulations, the department rightly declared that possession of big cats and certain other exotic animals poses significant hazards to public safety and health and is detrimental to the welfare of the animals.
LDWF's position statement on privately ownership of tigers:
"It is the Department's position that private possession of tigers poses a significant hazard to public safety and is detrimental to the health of the animal. Prolonged confinement is by its nature stressful to tigers and proper long-term care by experienced persons is essential to the health of the animal."
LDWF publicly stated it intends to enforce Louisiana law when litigation has concluded–although they could seize Tony now, at their discretion.
Please enforce Louisiana state law and ensure that Tony finally has the life, care and home he needs and deserves by relocating him to an accredited reputable humane big cat sanctuary and not another roadside zoo.
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