Sunday, September 4, 2011

Tony the Tiger's Plight in Louisiana

Activists have been fighting for Tony the Siberian-Bengal tiger who’s been living in a concrete cell as nothing more than an attraction for his owner Michael Sandlin at the Tiger Truck Stop in Gross Tete, La., since 2001.
In May, it looked like Tony would see certain freedom when the East Baton Rouge District Court granted the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s (ALDF) request for a permanent injunction against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), preventing them from renewing the annual permit that allows Michael Sandlin to keep Tony as of this December.
Sandlin tried to have the case dismissed in mid-August, but his request was denied by Judge R. Michael Caldwell.
Unfortunately, on August 29, the Louisiana Court of Appeals overturned the ruling on the basis that Sandlin and the truck stop should have been part of the lawsuit, which will lead to a new trial.
“We are confident that the trial court got the law right the first time around and will rule the same way when we go through it again with Mr. Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop as parties,” ALDF attorney Matthew Liebman told the AP.
The ALDF is also now asking Louisiana State University, the state’s flagship school, to join the cause after Sandlin painted pretty much everything at the truck stop purple and gold, the school’s official colors.
“The juxtaposition of the LSU colors with a tiger is certainly no coincidence, and it risks associating LSU with a controversial and inhumane exhibit. As you know well, LSU has spent extensive resources to improve its image on tiger welfare, and the Tiger Truck Stop’s infringement on LSU’s color combination and mascot endangers those efforts. Failure to remedy this infringement could be seen as an LSU endorsement of Tony’s captivity,” according to the ALDF.
While the ALDF is working to free Tony, they’re also campaigning for other captive tigers with similar plights. They estimate that there are 5,000 to 10,000 more captive tigers in the U.S. who are classified as “generic,” not purebred, and are therefore not protected as endangered. A USFWS rule exempts these tigers from the permit and reporting requirements that are required for endangered species.
The USFWS just published a proposed rule that would get rid of the “generic” exemption, which would require anyone owning a tiger, regardless of whether or not it’s a purebred, to report how many they have and what type of activities they’re engaged in that involve tigers.
Please submit a comment to the USFWS supporting their proposal to do away with the generic exemption.

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