Judge: Illegal permit issued to keep live tiger

Published: Nov. 2, 2011 at 6:30 PM CDT|Updated: Nov. 9, 2011 at 12:42 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A state judge has ruled that a permit issued to a Louisiana truck stop to keep a live tiger on display was illegally issued. The ruling, if upheld, means the truck stop can no longer keep the tiger.  However, lawyers for the truck stop owner say they will appeal the ruling.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund had already won a ruling that said the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries could not issue a permit allowing the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La., to continue exhibiting a live tiger as a roadside attraction. The tiger is known as "Tony".

"If I could thank the advocates for anything at all, what isn't much, I'd thank them for a million dollars worth of free advertising," said Mike Sandlin, owner of Tiger Truck Stop.

District Judge Mike Caldwell ruled Wednesday that a permit issued to the truck stop was illegally issued by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Caldwell did not give a time frame for when the tiger must be removed.

"We think the judge is totally wrong in his decision," said defense attorney Steve Leblanc. "The first circuit reversed him before in this case on a motion for a new trial we filed and we hope they will reverse him again."

Wildlife officials say Tony is the last privately-owned big, exotic cat in the state.

The defense fund wants the tiger moved to a more natural setting to live out its life.

"Our hope is that Tony will soon be at a reputable sanctuary where his needs can better be met than they are living on the side of a highway at a truck stop," said Lisa Franzetta with the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

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