The owner of a big tourist attraction off Interstate 10 is fighting to save his exhibit. A judge ruled the State Department of Wildlife and Fisheries should have never issued a permit to Michael Sandlin to house a live tiger at his truck stop. Now Sandlin is hoping for an appeal.
Sandlin wants everyone who travels through Grosse Tete to take a walk on the wild side. The Tiger Truck Stop is home to 12-year-old Tony the tiger. The popular roadside zoo offers an experience like no other in Louisiana, with a small slice of history.
"We have years of thousands of people who stop by and have been able to enjoy the tiger, have been able to get too close to the tiger and a lot of people say they haven't been that close to a tiger before," said Sandlin.
Jimmy Hendrix is one of them. The Mississippi native says it's a childhood experience he's now happy to share with his new wife. "I stop by and see Tony every time I come through here. Twice, three times a year," said Hendrix.
Not everyone is thrilled with having a caged tiger close to civilization. The Animal Legal Defense Fund and several residents took Sandlin and his truck top to court. A judge ordered that the state agency revoke Sandlin's permit, but he's not done fighting.
"If Tony at Tiger Truck Stop is dangerous to the public then certainly Mike the Tiger at LSU is dangerous to the public around 65,000 fans cheering at LSU stadium," said Sandlin.
Sandlin's attorney Jennifer Morris believes because public safety and animal welfare have never been cited as concerns by the law, the appellate court should overturn the trial judge's ruling and allow her client to keep Tony on display.
"There has been zero, never in the history of Tiger Truck Stop, of an animal getting out of a cage," said Morris.
Sandlin says his live tiger exhibit is no different than those housed elsewhere.
"I have the same exact federal license that LSU has for Mike. I have the exact same federal license that the Baton Rouge Zoo, Audubon Zoo has for their tiger," said Sandlin.
A spokeswoman for the ALDF released a statement saying the organization has submitted letters from experts in animal behavior who agree that Tony does not belong at a gas station.
It could be six months before the appellate court rules on the appeal.
Friday, August 29 2014 4:50 PM EDT2014-08-29 20:50:26 GMT
Special Judge Hollis McGehee has decided to dismiss an election challenge filed by Chris McDaniel..More >>
Special Judge Hollis McGehee has decided to dismiss an election challenge filed by Chris McDaniel. The judge announced his decision Friday in Gulfport, but that may not be the end to the legal battle between the two candidates.More >>
Friday, August 29 2014 1:30 PM EDT2014-08-29 17:30:06 GMT
Gruesome and disturbing new details were revealed Friday morning in a pre-trial hearing for the man accused of killing 5-year-old Janaya ThompsonMore >>
Gruesome and disturbing new details were revealed Friday morning in a pre-trial hearing for the man accused of killing 5-year-old Janaya Thompson. The Gulfport girl was sexually assaulted and strangled in July. Alberto Julio Garcia is charged with capital murder in the case. During Friday's hearing, prosecutors revealed that DNA evidence found on Janaya's body has come back from the crime lab with a positive match for Garcia's DNA.More >>
Friday, August 29 2014 3:40 PM EDT2014-08-29 19:40:25 GMT
Officials continue to search for the man who beat and robbed a woman during a home invasion in Yazoo City on Monday night. According to her family, 85-year-old Jeanelle Fratesi answered her front doorMore >>
According to her family, 85-year-old Jeanelle Fratesi answered her front door for a person she thought needed help.
Friday, August 29 2014 6:45 PM EDT2014-08-29 22:45:32 GMT
It was a short and simple ceremony on the Biloxi Town Green Friday morning to mark the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. High school students solemnly read the names of those killed by the storm.More >>
A small crowd gathered on the town green in Biloxi on Friday morning for the annual Hurricane Katrina observance. Nine years after the storm, Mayor A.J. Holloway acknowledged the tremendous losses, but also talked about the significant progress that's been made in the years since.More >>