A Siberian-Bengal tiger named Tony who spent his life as an attraction at the Tiger Truck Stop near Grosse Tete has passed away.
Tony was euthanized on Monday, October 16, because he was suffering from several health issues. Following an autopsy to learn more about his illness, Tony will be stuffed and placed on display.
The tiger was 17 years old. Captive tigers typically live between 14 and 18 years.
Tiger’s Truck Stop Life Spurred Controversy
Tony first came to the Tiger Truck Stop at the age of 6 months old in 2001 and spent almost his entire life in a 3,200-square-foot cage in the truck stop parking lot.
Tony has been the subject of controversy over the years. Animal rights activists argued that it was unfair to keep a tiger caged in a truck stop and questioned whether Tiger Truck Stop owner Michael Sandlin was providing the animal with a high enough quality of life. They also claimed that the noise and diesel fumes were bad for the tiger’s health.
Here is a statement on Tony’s death from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which fights for the rights of caged animals:
“We are deeply saddened to share the death of Tony, the Siberian-Bengal tiger held captive in the Tiger Truck Stop parking lot in Grosse Tete, Louisiana. 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. While we are saddened that we were unable to save Tony from his tragic confinement, we will continue to fight in the memory of Tony and the millions of other animals who have been mistreated, until no more animals are subject to such suffering.”
The Houston Chronicle noted in an article on Tony’s passing that “Tony’s enclosure appeared to be cleaner and more orderly than most truck stop bathrooms.”
Sandlin has always maintained that Tony had high quality food and veterinary care. In 2014, courts issued Sandlin an exemption that allowed him to keep Tony in spite of legal efforts to free him. This exemption was only for Tony and it would likely be difficult for Sandlin to obtain another tiger.