Dec 3, 2010 10:29 AM by Nichole Larkey
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - An animal-rights activist made an impassioned plea to Louisiana wildlife commissioners Thursday, calling on them to withhold renewal of a permit allowing an Interstate 10 truck stop to keep a live tiger on display as a roadside attraction.
Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission members, however, declined to intervene in the matter. One of them said the issue is properly under the control of the state Wildlife and Fisheries Department, and not the commission.
Mary Haik, of Zachary, argued before the commission that the tiger exhibit at Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete is an example of "one of those times when the whole world looks at Louisiana and thinks that we reek of corruption and idiocy."
Haik asserted the state has stood by doing nothing while Iberville Parish government has made exceptions to its parish ordinances in order to allow the truck stop to continue to exhibit Tony, a 10-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger, on the property.
An Iberville Parish ordinance enacted in 1993 prohibits parish residents from owning wild, exotic and vicious animals for exhibition.
The tiger exhibit was grandfathered in last year when the Iberville Parish Council approved a new ordinance allowing the truck stop to keep the tiger.
The new ordinance carries several conditions, however, such as requiring liability insurance, training staff how to deal with a possible tiger escape and specifying that the tiger's diet must be approved by a licensed veterinarian.
The ordinance further stipulates that the truck stop be subject to unannounced inspections to make sure the tiger is in good health and that Tony is the last tiger the business would be able to exhibit.
Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham said after the meeting he had not seen any evidence showing that the truck stop is breaking the law.
"Until that occurs, the truck stop is fulfilling its obligations and the permit will be renewed," Barham said.