Ask The Trucker

Raising the Standards of the Trucking Industry

otr truckingPoliticsTrucking

Truck Stop fights to keep Tony the Tiger


Tiger Truck Stop


Those who have been in OTR trucking for awhile, certainly know about the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana.  I always made it a point to stop there when passing through, due to three reasons:  (1) Cheap Food – (2) Good Food – and (3) To check out the Bengal tigers.  For years, animal right activists have been fighting to have the tigers removed and placed in a better, more natural environment.  Prevailing with some success, three of the tigers were sent elsewhere, leaving Tony the Tiger the lone exhibition.

Now, last November, 2008, State Wildlife Officials had given the owner of the truck stop, 30 days to remove Tony.  On December 16th, a judge blocked the order until a hearing could be held, scheduled for December 29, 2008.   Before that date rolled around, the owner, filed a lawsuit to keep Tony the Tiger.  As of this date, the saga continues.

I, personally, never enjoyed watching the Tiger(s) locked up in their cages.  Such majestic animals, pacing back and forth, or simply hiding in the background away from the peering eyes of humans, always struck me as kind of sad.  So for now, we’ll just watch and listen to see how the lawsuit turns out.

The owner, Michael Sandlin, has supervised these wild animals for over 20 years.  I was just wondering…how do other drivers feel about this?

Should the operation continue, or should Tony the Tiger be set “free?”    Read our updated post on the fight to free Tony the Tiger from the Tiger Truck Stop.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,



By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

View all posts by Allen Smith →

Tagged: , , , , ,

22 Responses to Truck Stop fights to keep Tony the Tiger. - Post a Comment

  1. Warren Peterson

    I am not a trucker, but it would seem to me that an animal with such highly developed senses would not enjoy living next to diesel fumes and exhaust from idling trucks, plus the constant noise. They hear sound frequencies of a much higher range than humans and smell like a bloodhound. You would think living there in a small cage on a slab of concrete with the noise and smell would drive it nuts. They have had citations for not cleaning up it’s feces properly. Is your cat happy with a dirty litterbox? Not hardly! God knows what they feed a large cat like that, but I would bet they cannot afford quality meat in large quantities nor the proper specialized veterinary care. I think it needs an upgrade to it’s lifestyle at a facility that could meet it’s basic needs for comfort, health and a little privacy once in a while. If that was a horse in that situation people would be outraged, but somehow the mystique of the tiger makes it OK to exploit like that. Not very classy.

  2. Allen Smith

    In general, I feel very bad for animals in cages. I myself love birds, but always try to take them out and socialize with them
    Large animals on the other hand should not be in cages…makes me very sad to see them like this. I think most people feel this way also, and because of that there has been tremendous progess in how zoos and such are now designed.
    I remember as a small child going to the Bronz Zoo about once a year and feeling so bad for the tigers pacing back and forth. Things are quite different there now ,as well as the other zoos who once had that same mentality. The US has come a long way, Unfortuneately there are many countries that “don’t get it” yet


  3. Woofless

    I’m not too quick to pass judgement in these kind of situations, especially when the most vocal groups “protesting” the tiger’s captivity are among the more extreme “animal rights” groups, known for putting their own “spin” on the facts more often than not. Having seen the tiger personally but NOT knowing the plain facts behind his care….I’ve tried to refrain from jumping to conclusions about Tony’s situation.

    However, if the truck stop’s owner made a little more effort to make the *bathroom* facilities more suitable for HUMAN use, I might be willing to take his devotion to the tiger more seriously. I am a regular customer at the Tiger’s restaurant….because the FOOD is good, but WOE to any driver who stops by the Tiger to answer the call of nature- or God forbid, have a shower. The bathrooms behind the C-store, both the women’s (and my husband tells me) the men’s….are always in a state of squalor. I wouldn’t let my DOG set foot in the restrooms there.

    If the man kept his truckstop in better condition for the drivers, we might be more inclined to stand behind him unquestioningly & support his right to keep his tiger. But seeing as he can’t manage to get his employees to keep a restroom *reasonably* clean, I am easily able to question just how he manages to provide a suitable standard of care for an animal? I’m not usually one to side with the PETA freaks, but in this case I think if a more suitable habitat for Tony exists, he should be able to go there.

  4. Allen Smith

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Woofless. I made frequent stops to this truck stop many times…..enjoyed catching a glimpse of “Tony” but always wished he and the others were in a more suitable place ….. I’ve mentioned before, that the only reason I made stops here were for one reason: the food was good!

  5. angela bills

    i am a otr driver and stopped at this truckstop many times ,i love animals and everytime i have been there to see tony,but have wondered many times if he is real,he never moves and always inside that hut,and if he is real he must be miserable in that environment but to me it looks staged to make you think he is real

  6. Terri Halle

    Sad, but true Angela, Tony is real and Michael Sandlin was just approved again in December 2009, to keep him in that wretched space – where he paces endlessly from boredom, has limited access to the ‘grassy area’ and his water bowl is GREEN.

  7. Sleepless

    No, Tony the Tiger should have a more natural environment to live in. I’ve been there and have seen the cats. If the owner would buy a large plot of land next to the t/s and enclose it like other big cat habitats have done, then Tony could stay. Otherwiser, the cat should be placed elsewhere. Funny how we have all kinds of groups that actually force people in other countries to obey American law, but the same does not apply in America. I am also aware of the lies and exagerations of special interests (stupidity) groups. If they are so concerned about the cat, let them buy the land and care for the cat and keep him right there.

  8. Tigress62

    The individuals deciding Tony’s fate had the opportunity to give him a safe, clean home with proper medical care, food and enrichment, and still they chose to let him continue to suffer at the truck stop.

    Tony is exploited 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and breathes in the fumes and endures the noise of trucks and cars, as well as the taunting of ignorant people. Surely this is not a healthy environment for him. How can anyone condone such living conditions as these for any animal?

    Laws were broken and changed to cater to one individual, Michael Sandlin, whose greed, selfishness and cruelty were more important to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries than the welfare of Tony.

    People all over the world voiced their concern for Tony on social networking sites, by signing petitions and contacting the LDW&F and anyone else who they thought could help free Tony, but their pleas went unanswered and were ignored.

    Sandlin was offered a home for Tony at an accredited big cat sanctuary, but refused. If he truly cared about Tony he would have released him to such a sanctuary, but his only concern is to exploit Tony as a money-making gimmick.

    To allow such a blatant display of animal cruelty to continue is very sad and disturbing and makes one wonder what more was involved in this decision. All those involved in this horrendous verdict, as well as those who did nothing to help Tony, should be ashamed – to allow this magnificent cat to continue to suffer is in itself a cruel and inhumane act.

    I , along with many others, will continue to be a voice for Tony by broadcasting his story and his suffering. We must let those individuals involved in making this horrendous decision know of our outrage and objection.

  9. Tigress62

    Read more about the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries’ decision to grant the permit to the Tiger Truck Stop at:

    There is also more information, links, pictures and video for Tony at

    To sign the petition for Tony visit:

  10. Allen Smith

    Thanks for all this. I’ll put this all out on twitter.

  11. Allen Smith
  12. Allen Smith

    Thanks for all the info. We’ll keep checking your blog for updates

  13. […] many feel that the place is not suitable for a Bengal Tiger.  A comment by Tigress62 on the AskTheTrucker website sums it up well ‘Tony is exploited 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and breathes in the […]

  14. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Aubrey &, Aubrey & and Jennifer Sampey, Tony Tiger. Tony Tiger said: Older post for Tony I commented on and made some great contacts: […]

  15. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by askthetrucker: Tony the Tiger Truck Stop…He was voted to stay locked in a cage and not allowed in a reserve READ COMMENTS

  16. […] up on our previous post, Truck Stop fights to keep Tony the Tiger, the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana won its battle to keep Tony the Tiger as its main […]

  17. […] many feel that the place is not suitable for a Bengal Tiger.  A comment by Tigress62 on the AskTheTrucker website sums it up well ‘Tony is exploited 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and breathes in the […]

  18. […] up on our previous post, Truck Stop fights to keep Tony the Tiger, the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana won its battle to keep Tony the Tiger as its main […]

  19. […] Yogie and Friends Exotic Cat Sanctuary Blog Louisiana's only refuge for big exotic cats « Exotic cats do NOT make good pets! Tiger Truck Stop – this has got to stop! January 16, 2010 I’d like to draw your attention to this story at […]

  20. […] up on our previous post, Truck Stop fights to keep Tony the Tiger, the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana won its battle to keep Tony the Tiger as its main […]

  21. Julie

    Horrifying and incomprehensible. What on earth would make someone want to take and confine a tiger? Seriously, of all the big cats, tigers are the most solitary, which means that they need to be alone. Displaying him in a cage at a toxic, polluted truckstop is incredibly cruel. Why is Michael Sandlin allowed to do this? Where is the government? Somebody please help this exceptionally intelligent tiger get free and retire at Big Cat Rescue sanctuary.

  22. Cat

    Wow. Your comment shows how backward thinking some people really are! You’re more concerned with the state of the bathroom at this truck stop than the fact that, bizarrely, a majestic animal that should be in the wild is caged in what is essentially a prison for truckers, other drivers, etc, to gawp at day in and day out, year in and year out. This poor animal which in the wild would roam large distances every day and have freedom has been confined to this prison for TEN YEARS at a bloody truck stop,for god’s sake. What is wrong with people like you who think that that is acceptable? How many brain cells do people like you, and Tony the Tiger’s “owner” have? Where is your sense of humanity and common decency? Would you like to be caged at a truck stop for years on end and for the rest of your life, having to breathe in diesel fumes, have barely any space to move, people staring at you night and day?? I doubt it very much unless you’re totally insane.

What do you have to say about this?

To the top