Owner of truck stop fighting to save live tiger exhibit - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Owner of truck stop fighting to save live tiger exhibit

Posted: Updated:
Tiger Truck Stop exhibit Tiger Truck Stop exhibit
Tiger Truck Stop exhibit Tiger Truck Stop exhibit
Michael Sandlin with a visitor from Connecticut Michael Sandlin with a visitor from Connecticut
  • More Local NewsLocalMore>>

  • Volunteers help build ramp for local artist

    Volunteers help build ramp for local artist

    Monday, September 1 2014 8:20 PM EDT2014-09-02 00:20:42 GMT
    Some local volunteers spent their Labor Day weekend helping to build a ramp for a local artist whose leg had to be amputated.More >>
    Some local volunteers spent their Labor Day weekend helping to build a ramp for a local artist whose leg had to be amputated.More >>
  • Tropical Depression forms in the Bay of Campeche

    Tropical Depression forms in the Bay of Campeche

    Monday, September 1 2014 7:45 PM EDT2014-09-01 23:45:55 GMT
    The first 2 weeks of September mark the peak of tropical activity of the Atlantic hurricane season. So right on cue we now have a new tropical depression in the Bay of Campeche...More >>
    The first 2 weeks of September mark the peak of tropical activity of the Atlantic hurricane season. So right on cue we now have a new tropical depression in the Bay of Campeche...More >>
  • Unions celebrate Labor Day 2014

    Unions celebrate Labor Day 2014

    Monday, September 1 2014 7:38 PM EDT2014-09-01 23:38:19 GMT
    Unions celebrated Labor Day 2014 with annual picnic and visits from politicians.More >>
    Unions celebrated Labor Day 2014 with annual picnic and visits from politicians.More >>
GROSSE TETE, LA (WAFB) -

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.

Copyright 2013 WAFB. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow