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Tony the tiger to get a new home

By Lynn Curwin     May 9, 2011 in World
Baton Rouge - Tony, a 10-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger, is scheduled to be moved from his current home at a truck stop to a new location by the end of the year.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s (ALDF) request for a permanent injunction against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, to prevent the agency from renewing the permit that allows the tiger to be displayed at the truck stop, was granted by State District Judge R. Michael Caldwell on May 6.
“Today, the law was upheld in the state of Louisiana, which has explicit regulations designed to protect tigers like Tony,” ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells said in a press release. “It is an incredible victory for ALDF, the tens of thousands around the world who have supported this campaign, and most of all, for Tony. We eagerly look forward to the day that he leaves behind the noise and fumes of the Tiger Truck Stop for a new life of freedom that he has never known.”
More than 31,000 people signed petitions urging the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to revoke the permit which allows Michael Sandlin, owner of Grosse Tete’s Tiger Truck Stop, to keep Tony on display.
Tony has been on exhibit there since 2001, and has had no other tiger companions since 2003.
The current permit expires on December 14.
Animal Legal Defense Fund attorney Matthew Liebman said the defense fund will work with the state to find a new home for Tony, at an animal sanctuary.
Sandlin stated that he would file his own suit in an effort to keep the tiger.
"That tiger is not going anywhere," the Beaumont Enterprise quoted him as saying.
"He means a great deal to me and he means a great deal to the truck stop."
Louisiana Rep. Warren Triche Jr., who wrote a 2006 state law banning the possession of big cats, was a co-plaintiff in the case.
People who legally owned tigers before the law took effect were exempt from it, but the ALDF argued Sandlin should not have been exempt because he was violating a parish law, but the truck stop owner said the parish rule did not apply to roadside zoos like his.
The campaign to relocate Tony drew support from celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and True Blood’s Kristin Bauer.
An 2010 article on Ask the Trucker about a visit to the tiger says: "Having last seen him about six years ago, I was curious to observe how he was doing. Still in his unchanged cage, we were able to draw him out of his hiding spot and was able to see Tony move around in his small quarters seven cubs have survived birth at the facility.
"He moved slowly around the cage, almost lethargically, and I was able to capture our visit on video." (above)
The Tiger Truck Stop webste states that seven tigers have survived birth at the facility.
ALDF hopes to work with the wildlife department to find the best possible new home for Tony.
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