Tony, a Bengal-Siberian mix, was euthanized earlier this month due to old age and a lingering illness that was unresponsive to injected antibiotics, said Michael Sandlin, owner of Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, near Baton Rouge.
Sandlin said antibiotics helped the tiger recover from kidney problems about six weeks ago, but they didn’t seem to be working this time. Since Tony wasn’t eating, oral antibiotics couldn’t help him as they had before.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) asked the USDA in April to investigate Tony’s care. The animal rights group also fought to have Tony moved from the truck stop to a tiger sanctuary.
In 2011 a state district judge ordered the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to revoke Sandlin’s permit, but the legislature passed a law exempting Sandlin from state restrictions on owning exotic cats. That case was still in court.
“For more than seven years, we litigated on many fronts to free Tony, and we are devastated that despite our best efforts, he lived and died caged at a truck stop that could never provide the life he deserved,” ALDF said in an emailed statement.
ALDF said “it will keep fighting to uphold Louisiana’s ban on private ownership of big cats—there will never be a Tony II or Tony III. Our litigation to uphold the constitutionality of Louisiana’s Big Cat Ban does not end with Tony’s death. We will continue to fight Michael Sandlin’s attempts to overturn the Big Cat Ban and prevent him from subjecting another tiger to Tony’s fate. Further, our case against the USDA arguing that Tony should be recognized as an “individual” will continue.”
Sandlin said he will also keep up the fight.