Description: Off Interstate-10 at exit 139 is Tiger Truck Stop which uses a live Siberian/Bengal tiger named Tony as a gimmick and roadside attraction.
A 1993 Iberville Parish County Ordinance prohibited the display of wild exotic animals as pets but was never enforced. The ordinance was amended on March 17, 2009 to allow Tony’s owner Michael Sandlin to keep Tony.
Mr. Sandlin then had to secure a license from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. LDWF’s Large Carnivore Manager Maria Davidson stated:
“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.”
On December 14, 2009 the LDW&F granted a permit to allow Tony’s owner to keep him at the truck stop.
Some of the dangers to Tony both physically and mentally include:
1. Constant inhalation of diesel fumes as his cage is literally within feet of the gas pumps.
2. Sight-seers continually crowding around his cage and flashing lights in his face from cameras.
3. There are even signs posted asking people not to throw things at the tiger.
4. Living on concrete which has been linked to a painful condition of fluid collection around an animal’s joints.
5. Deafening noise from the big trucks and cars passing through 24 hours a day.
6. Living alone with no enrichment whatsoever or animals of his kind.
I realize there are varied opinions on what is best for Tony, so let me start off by stating a few facts on the history of Tiger Truck Stop that seem to have been overlooked. The buying, breeding, selling and exploiting of tigers for what they call “conservation” has been going on for 30 plus years with Mr. Sandlin and his father before him.
There is no conservation in hand raising wild animals which then can never be released back into the wild, but instead must live out their lives confined in cages.
On November 6, 1989 Tiger Truck Stop raffled off an 11-month-old 350-pound Bengal tiger named Gloria who was living in a 16”x7”x7” cage attached to a flatbed trailer. The entry forms informed potential winners that they could “donate [her] to a zoo, sell [her], or give [her] to a friend” in the event that the winner did not want to keep the cub.
On December 14, 1993 according to The New Orleans Times- Picayune, Tiger Truck Stop was evacuated for five hours after a tanker truck ruptured, spilling 400 gallons of highly flammable aviation fuel at the truck stop.
On September 12, 1997 Tiger Truck Stop sold two tiger cubs for $2,500 to a couple passing through on a camping trip. One of the cubs suffered from fluid collection around the joints in her front legs, a condition linked to living on concrete.
November 5, 1997 The USDA cited Tiger Truck Stop for failure to provide shelter from inclement weather.
August 23, 1999 The USDA cited Tiger Truck Stop for unsanitary feeding practices, algae growth in the water receptacles, and poor housekeeping.
November 28, 2000 Tiger Truck Stop was cited again by the USDA for failure to correct previously identified violations of not providing veterinary care and mishandling tigers.
Baby tigers were being housed in a cage behind the counter in the store and used for pictures.
Two 60lb white tigers were being housed in a 5”x 5” chain-link dog run, and Tony was tied up behind the counter in the store by a dog collar and leash.
In October 2001 two tiger cubs were taken in for declawing. The first evening at the veterinarian’s office, the male cub died.
Another tiger named Selena died mysteriously at the age of four and is now stuffed and mounted over the restaurant salad bar.
In April of 2003 after repeated violations of the Animal Welfare Act three of the four remaining tigers were removed from the facility, but Tony was left behind.
These are ONLY a handful of the many violations and citations over the years, yet Tony still remains at the truck stop.
Michael Sandlin has threatened a lawsuit if anyone tries to take Tony, but it is the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ job both legally and ethically to do what is best for Tony.
His cage sits within feet of the gas pumps. He breathes in toxic fumes from cars and trucks all day long, not to mention the aggravation he must feel with sightseers continually crowding around his cage and flashing lights in his face.
Tony also must endure the deafening noise from the big trucks and cars passing through 24 hours a day, flood lights on him at night, living on concrete which is damaging to his joints and pads of his paws.
He is living alone with no enrichments or animals of his kind. People taunt him, yell at him, and even throw things at him.
Michael Sandlin calls Tony his pet and part of the family, but he stated in a recent article that “thanks to all of the animal rights activists, business is better than ever”. He also stated that “he plans to exhibit “the tiger” until he is too old or too sick to be exhibited anymore”.
Clearly Tony is nothing more than a commodity to him. Please do what is right for Tony and let him live out his sunset years in peace at a sanctuary where he will get the love, attention and enrichment he so greatly deserves.
He has done his time at The Truck Stop.
I ask you not to renew Michael Sandlin’s annual permit to keep Tony at Tiger Truck Stop.
Tony is now 10 years old. Captive tigers with the proper care, diet, habitat, enrichment and medical care live 15 to 20 years.
How many years does Tony have left after living in the detrimental conditions at the truck stop?
Accredited big cat sanctuaries stand ready to give Tony the home, care and life he deserves.
Please allow this magnificent cat the chance to live in peace and dignity.