The Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete and its controversially caged Tony the tiger were the focus of a live, Internet radio show Wednesday that promoted keeping the 10-year-old tiger in town.
The one-hour “Out and Wild with Joe Exotic” show on gay-themed OutOnline.com showcased the cage habitat and its new purple and gold paint.
The tiger at the Tiger Truck Stop, west of Baton Rouge, has been the subject of a lawsuit as well as actions by federal, state and parish governments over the past eight years.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund, with headquarters in California, complained recently that the tiger enclosure’s new color scheme violated LSU’s trademark. LSU houses Mike, a Bengal tiger that serves as the university’s mascot.
LSU is not planning to pursue any action after consulting with legal counsel, said Brian Hommel, director of LSU trademark licensing.
“We don’t believe this particular use currently rises to the level of infringement,” Hommel said Wednesday.
The ALDF is in court attempting to move the tiger from its truck stop enclosure.
Joe Schreibvogel, who goes by “Joe Exotic” on the Internet webcast and radio show, also has had his share of run-ins with the ALDF and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, known as PETA, over allegations of animal abuse. He runs the G.W. Exotic Animal Memorial Park in Wynnewood, Okla.
Schreibvogel rallied support for Michael Sandlin, who owns the truck stop in Grosse Tete.
Schreibvogel showed online video of him inspecting the grass and air conditioning in Tony’s cage. He said he approved of the 550-pound tiger’s health and happiness.
Schreibvogel said Sandlin is being unfairly targeted by “people who know nothing about tigers.”
“This tiger is in no need of being rescued,” Schreibvogel said, arguing the Siberian-Bengal mix would likely die of depression in an animal sanctuary.
“You can’t smell any gas; you can’t smell any diesel,” he said from the tiger cage. The truck stop is within sight of Interstate 10. But many zoos are near interstate highways, he said.
“Let’s get some checkbooks out and build Tony a (new) home right here in Grosse Tete,” he said.
A state district court ruling in May barred the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries from issuing any new animal permits to the Tiger Truck Stop once the current permit expires after December. So, as of now, Tony must go elsewhere after this year.
A Sept. 15 court hearing is scheduled in an effort to revoke the permit sooner.
A district judge in May agreed with the ALDF that a permit can only be issued to an individual, not a corporation, and that the individual must live on the premises.
Tiger Truck Stop is the permit holder, not Sandlin.
Employees with Big Cat Rescue, an animal sanctuary in Tampa, Fla., home to 117 large cats, have been working for years to have Tony removed from the truck stop.
“Hell will freeze over before Tony ever goes to Big Cat Rescue,” Sandlin said Wednesday, arguing he would sooner send the tiger to the G.W. Exotic Animal Memorial Park.
“We may have to file a separate suit against the state and kind of circumvent this litigation,” Sandlin said.