Apr 21, 2010 12:10 PM by Melissa Canone
GROSSE TETE, La. (AP) - A Florida animal welfare advocate fired
off a scathing e-mail complaining to Iberville Parish authorities
about what she called inhumane conditions a tiger is forced to
endure while on public display at an Interstate 10 truck stop.
Her criticism brought a volley of denials Tuesday from the
parish president, parish chief administrative officer, state
large-carnivore manager as well as the tiger's owner.
In expressing her displeasure to Parish President Mitch Ourso
and the parish's animal control shelter, Sky Williamson threatened
to organize a parish-wide boycott until the tiger is removed and
placed in an animal sanctuary.
For years, Williamson, of Melbourne, Fla., has waged an
aggressive campaign to get the tiger removed and placed in an
environment more in line with a tiger's natural habitat.
Williamson has said her e-mail and phone campaign to have the
tiger removed from the truck stop started in January 2008 after she
first saw the tiger.
In the latest complaint which she made public, Williamson said
she stopped by Tiger Truck Stop on Monday afternoon to check on
Tony, the 550-pound Siberian-Bengal tiger who has been caged for
years at the truck stop.
Williamson suggested the big cat has been losing weight due to
Williamson admitted to being "disgusted" and "nauseated" to
find Tony's sleeping area littered with his own feces and urine.
Cats do not defecate where they sleep, Williamson told officials
in her e-mail, also asserting she has photo evidence showing Tony
locked in his den without access to drinking water.
In response, Ourso said Williamson was out of line in
threatening a boycott.
"I don't appreciate her making threats to my office or the
people of this parish," Ourso said. "She' not a resident here. I
think she's gone too far."
The parish has put in place safeguards for the tiger's welfare,
said Edward Songy, the parish's chief administrative officer, such
as weekly, random and unannounced visits by animal-control workers
to check on the tiger's health and inspect the cat's living
Calling Williamson's new claims unfounded, Songy said those
inspections haven't uncovered any inhumane treatment of the animal.
The large-carnivore program manager for the Louisiana Department
of Wildlife and Fisheries, Maria Davidson, said Tuesday she also
has randomly checked on the tiger since Dec. 14, when her agency
granted the Grosse Tete truck stop's owner a permit to keep the
tiger on public display.
"I have never seen anything to substantiate anything in
(Williamson's) letter," Davidson said.
Also Tuesday, Tiger Truck Stop owner Michael Sandlin, who said
he has owned 13 big cats during a 22-year period, dismissed
Williamson's complaint as a continuation of that activist's mission
to take the 10-year-old tiger away from him.
"This is nothing but harassment," Sandlin said.