Tony, a 550-pound, 12-year-old Bengal-Siberian tiger that lives in a 40-by-80-foot pen at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La., may soon need a new home.
A three-judge panel from the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal in Louisiana ruled Thursday that the permit the truck stop held for the big cat was invalid. In what has become a convoluted legal battle between the truck stop, the truck stop's owner, Michael Sandlin, and various animal rights advocates that has stretched on for more than five years, the panel upheld an order barring the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries from granting a new permit to Sandlin or the truck stop to continue housing the animal because neither could prove rightful ownership.
An animal rights group called the Animal Legal Defense Fund based in Cotati, Calif. had filed suit alleging that the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries had no authority to issue the permit in the first place because of local ordinances. Additionally, the group said the state did not have the authority to issue a permit where ownership could not be determined.
A lawyer representing the truck stop said she will ask that the case be reheard. If that fails, published reports say she is prepared to ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to consider the case.
Tony will remain a fixture at the truck stop, where he was born and raised, until all the appeals have been completed. If the truck stop is unsuccessful in retaining the right to keep the animal, he could be seized and sent to an animal sanctuary.