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Truck stop tiger gets his day in court

Tony, a 10-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger, lives at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham granted a permit allowing for Tony the tiger to be exhibited there.

After the state permit was issued, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit arguing that LDWF violated state legislation prohibiting persons from keeping a tiger as a pet or exhibiting a tiger within the state, but those that owned big cats legally before this law was passed were able to keep their animals.

Living at a truck stop is no life for a tiger, says Gina Miller, International Fund for Animal Welfare’s legal policy analyst. “Tony is subjected to noise and diesel fumes from trucks and kept in a concrete cage with no adequate enrichment or escape from the elements, resulting in constant stress. Ten years of living at Tiger Truck Stop have taken a toll on Tony’s health.”

The permit to exhibit Tony expired in December of 2011 and hasn’t been renewed. However, Tony is still being kept at the truck stop in violation of Louisiana law because the judge ruled that the Department has discretion whether or not to enforce Louisiana’s law prohibiting the private ownership of big cats. This discretion is allowing Tony the tiger to languish at a truck stop.

Now, Tony will have another day in court. Tony’s owner sued the State of Louisiana claiming that the law against private ownership of big cats was unconstitutional. Advocates for Tony’s health and safety will have their chance too to support Louisiana’s authority to protect the public and the welfare of big cats.

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Tony at the truck stop, video by Breawna Smith

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