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Battle to Free Truck Stop Tiger Continues

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit on Thursday against Lousiana's Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) to have Tony, the 11-year-old tiger who's been living on display at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La., moved to a sanctuary.

The ALDF sued the LDWF and its secretary Robert Barham on Tony's behalf last year arguing that granting Tony's owner, Michael Sandlin, a permit in the first place violated state law. Judge R. Michael Caldwell granted the ALDF's request for a permanent injunction against the LDWF, preventing them from renewing the annual permit that allows Sandlin to keep Tony.

Unfortunately that decision was overturned because Sandlin was not part of the lawsuit. In November Judge Caldwell ordered the LDWF to revoke Michael Sandlin's permit to keep Tony and bar him from obtaining another permit in the future. Tony's advocates, who have been fighting this issue for years, cheered the decision -- it seemed like he would finally be free.

Oddly enough, Sandlin's permit expired at the end of December, yet Tony is still stuck in his concrete prison because Sandlin appealed the decision and nothing can be done until the appeals process is complete.

The ALDF's new lawsuit is seeking to have the LDWF report Sandlin to local law enforcement for violating a 2006 ban on private ownership of big cats, which Sandlin is currently challenging.

'The state of Louisiana has explicit regulations designed to protect tigers like Tony, and the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is required to enforce them,'' said Stephen Wells, ALDF's Executive Director.

'The court has already granted Tony and ALDF a victory by ruling that Michael Sandlin's permit to display Tony was illegal. Sandlin, now without a permit, cannot be allowed to continue to exploit this tiger with impunity,'' he said.
If Sandlin loses his appeal, he will have 30 days to move Tony to a sanctuary

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