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Truck Stop Tiger Case Could Roar Into La. Supreme Court
Having been turned out of two rings already, Tony the Truck Stop Tiger's master is taking his case to the big show on Royal Street. Grosse Tete's Tiger Truck Stop owner Michael Sandlin is looking to take his appeal to keep Tony the Tiger in his roadside den to the Louisiana Supreme Court. As ever, the case is attracting national attention, as a national animal rights group weighed in to the Court Thursday with a brief arguing that Tony shouldn't have to go before the justices.
The twelve-year-old tiger is kept at the truck stop, allowing for all traveling the I-10 to get a look at his stripes. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries granted Sandlin a Big Cat permit allowing him to keep Tony more than two years ago, but lower courts have subsequently ruled that the permit should be disallowed after appeals brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
In latest bit of legal wrangling, Sandlin asked the state's high court to hear his appeal of two decisions in lower state appeals court that ruled he is not allowed to have a Big Cat permit to keep Tony. Two years ago, the suit was brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund. That organization asked the Louisiana Supreme Court not to hear the case in court papers filed Thursday.
Sandlin and his lawyers have argued that Tiger Truck Stop qualifies legally as a zoo, and should be eligible to be grandfathered into previous Iberville Parish permitting rules. State district and appeals judges disagreed with both of those arguments, ruling that the Truck Stop is not a zoo, and finding that since no one lives at the truck stop, it can't be grandfathered in.
The Truck Stop team brought multiple errors in the rulings to the Louisiana Supreme Court, including a contention that four citizens who sued along with ADLF don't have any financial concern in the matter. On Thursday, the ADLF reiterated an appeals court ruling that all taxpayers have a stake in any state decision.
Tony has remained in the 40 ft. by 80 ft. cage while the legal sideshows continue.
"...The truth is that (Tiger Truck Stop) have illegally possessed and exhibited Tony the Tiger at their truck stop for more than 12 years," the ALDF writes. "Defendants have drawn out this illegal captivity long enough."
The Supreme Court has not indicated when they will make a decision on the case.
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