Covering Louisiana

Jun 12, 2013 3:36 PM by AP

Truck stop mulls Supreme Court bid to keep tiger

GROSSE TETE, La. (AP) - The lawyer for a truck stop owner who is fighting for the right to keep a live tiger on display at Grosse Tete says the case will be taken to Louisiana's Supreme Court if necessary.

Jennifer Treadway Morris discussed the case with The Advocate of Baton Rouge after losing the latest court round. A three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal on Friday refused to reconsider its April ruling that Tony - a 550-pound Siberian-Bengal tiger - cannot be housed in an exhibit at Tiger Truck Stop off Interstate 10.

The panel had upheld a previous ruling by state Judge Mike Caldwell that a 2006 Louisiana law bars the state wildlife department from renewing truck stop owner Michael Sandlin's permit to exhibit Tony.

Caldwell concluded the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries violated its own rules by exempting Sandlin and Tiger Truck Stop from permit requirements for owners of big cats. The judge ruled that a state permit can be issued only to an individual, not a corporation. Tiger Truck Stop was the permit holder, not Sandlin, he said.

The truck stop's last annual state permit expired at the end of 2011.

Sandlin also is challenging the 2006 state law that banned private ownership of large and exotic cats. The law does include a grandfather exception that allows people to keep exotic cats as pets as long as the animals were legally owned before Aug. 15, 2006, when the law went into effect.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has said previously that Tony is the last privately owned big and exotic cat in the state. Sandlin maintains the tiger is well cared for, healthy and happy.



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