The California-based Animal Legal Defense Fund is seeking to enlist a new partner in its effort to keep up the pressure on Michael Sandlin, owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete: Louisiana State University.
A Baton Rouge judge last May granted a permanent injunction preventing the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries from renewing Sandlin’s license to keep Tony, a 550-pound Siberian-Bengal tiger, in a 700-square-foot enclosure at his business off Interstate 10. A defiant Sandlin has fought for years to keep Tony caged at his shabby station and, in perhaps a sign that he intends to fight this thing until the very end, recently further capitalized on his proximity to LSU by painting Tony’s den and enclosure purple and gold — the familiar color scheme of Louisiana’s flagship university.
The ALDF recently brought the new paint job to LSU’s attention, hoping to convince the university to take action against Sandlin for trademark violation, according to ALDF Director of Communications Lisa Franzetta, who says LSU has “ assured us they are investigating the matter.”
In a recent letter to Brian Hommel, LSU’s director of trademark licensing, ALDF staff attorney Matthew Liebman lays out the group’s case:
Not only does the Tiger Truck Stop confine a tiger, the LSU mascot, in conditions many consider inhumane, it has also appropriated the official LSU colors, purple and gold. The truck stop’s large sign and external façade are purple and gold, as are Tony’s transport trailer and a sign hung on Tony’s cage. The truck stop also just painted Tony’s den purple and gold. The juxtaposition of the LSU colors with a tiger is certainly no coincidence, and it risks associating LSU with a controversial and inhumane exhibit. As you know well, LSU has spent extensive resources to improve its image on tiger welfare, and the Tiger Truck Stop’s infringement on LSU’s color combination and mascot endangers those efforts. Failure to remedy this infringement could be seen as an LSU endorsement of Tony’s captivity.