After over a year-long struggle that raised the ire of national animal rights activists,
Michael Sandlin, owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tette, has officially been awarded a permit from the state to keep his 9 year-old, 550-pound Siberian-Bengal tiger, Tony. The Advocate reports that Sandlin has been granted a "Possession of Potentially Dangerous Wild Quadrapeds, Big Exotic Cats and Non-Human Primates" permit by the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Sandlin was grandfathered into a state law that prevents ownership of wild, exotic cats, making him the only permitted private tiger owner in the state. From The Advocate:
Sandlin said he was prepared to take the issue all the way through the court system in order to keep the tiger. But he said it’s not right that once the tiger is gone, he can’t get another one or get the tiger a companion.
The tiger is 9 years old and Sandlin said tigers can live more than 20 years in captivity. “Once Tony’s gone, it’s all over with,” Sandlin said. “After 22 years of exhibiting tigers and owning tigers, there’s certainly an emotional attachment.”
For more on the issue, read The Independent's February cover story on Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop.