State issues permit for Tony the Tiger

DEIDRE CRUSE, Governmental Reporter
OBLIVIOUS TO DEBATE...Tony, the Bengal tiger who is a roadside attraction at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, takes a nap as the debate about his future draws national and international attention on a petition website. The Iberville Parish Council will hold a public hearing on the tiger issue at 6 p.m. Tuesday on the second floor of the Courthouse.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has issued Michael Sandlin a permit to keep “Tony the Tiger” at the Tiger Truck Stop at Grosse Tete, parish Chief Administrative Officer Edward A. “Lucky” Songy Jr. reported Monday.

Starting this time last year, Tony became a subject of a controversy after Wildlife and Fisheries denied Sandlin a permit because of a parish law prohibiting wild animals as pets. Some thought the parish law did not apply, since the truck stop is in the Village of Grosse Tete, which did not have a law against the tiger.

Ibervile Parish got international attention from the fight between Sandlin, who wanted to keep the tiger as a roadside attraction, and animal rights activists, who wanted the animal sent to an animal reserve.

The Iberville Parish Council amended a parish ordinance prohibiting residents from keeping wild animals to allow Sandlin to keep Tony, subject to strict permit requirements. The exception was made only for Tony.

The parish issued Sandlin a permit for the tiger earlier this year.

Songy said Wildlife and Fisheries notified the Iberville Parish Council office Monday of the permit for a “potentially dangerous quadruped and non-human primate.”