The Governor & the Tiger

Jindal to decide whether Louisiana truckstop can keep big cat

Tiger Truck Stop (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores)


GROSSE TETE, La. -- State lawmakers have passed legislation to let a Grosse Tete, La., truckstop owner keep a tiger onsite, overruling court decisions against him, reported the Associated Press.

The retail location has bred and kept tigers on site for more than 20 years, and the animals have served as a draw for the business. Tony, a 550-lb. Bengal tiger, is the only remaining cat.

The House voted 67 to 26 Friday to send the measure (SB 250) by state Senator Rick Ward (R) to Governor Bobby Jindal.

Ward's bill would exempt Michael Sandlin, owner of Tiger Truck Stop, from state restrictions on owning exotic cats.

Bill supporters said the tiger lives comfortably and safely. State Representative Major Thibaut (D) say the bill protects a property owner's rights.

Opponents say it is improper to change a law to overrule a court decision. Animal rights groups say keeping Tony at a gas station threatens public safety and the tiger's well-being.

Sandlin and his opponents cite conflicting evidence as to whether the cat is being cared for properly or mistreated. And Sandlin has claimed that the activists themselves have tried to harm Tony to make their case. The tiger has a grassy enclosure and shelter larger than required by law and has documented veterinary care. It cannot be released to the wild.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is urging Jindal to veto the bill.