Tony the tiger to remain at Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete for now after judge dismisses lawsuit _lowres

Tony looks out of his cage at the Tiger Truck Stop on June 20, 2014, in Grosse Tete. Gov. Bobby Jindal quietly signed into law Senate Bill 250, granting an exception for the tiger, who is kept in a caged facility at the truck stop.

The owner of a controversial truck stop in Grosse Tete once considered sending his former mascot — Tony the Tiger — to Joe Exotic, a flamboyant zookeeper at the center of Netflix's hit documentary series "Tiger King."

In 2013, The New York Times reported Michael Sandlin, the owner of Tiger Truck Stop in Iberville Parish, had once wanted to send his 550-pound Bengal-Siberian tiger to Joe Exotic's wildlife park in Oklahoma to live in retirement.

At the time, Sandlin had an ongoing battle with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, who fought tooth and nail to have Tony removed from his cage at the roadside gas station about 20 miles west of Baton Rouge.

Joe Schreibvogel (also known as Joe Exotic) owned a park which attracted plenty of controversy itself and was investigated by federal officials following the death of 23 tiger cubs.

The report says Sandlin said he believed Joe Exotic could provide good care for his tiger and didn't trust others to know what was good for Tony.

Schreibvogel rallied support for Sandlin in 2011 by hosting him on "Out and Wild with Joe Exotic," a gay-themed internet radio show.

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 …

During the online show, Schreibvogel released video of him inspecting the grass and air conditioning in Tony’s cage. He said he approved of Tony's health and happiness.

“This tiger is in no need of being rescued,” Schreibvogel said, arguing Tony would likely die of depression in an animal sanctuary. “You can’t smell any gas; you can’t smell any diesel.”

Joe Exotic has since been convicted of two murder-for-hire plots and 17 animal wildlife violations. His ostentatious lifestyle and poorly kept "big cat sanctuary" is highlighted in Netflix's 2020 documentary, which is fully titled "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness."

The bizarre true-crime docuseries was released on Netflix on March 20, and has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

"Tiger King" producers briefly aired footage of the truck stop in Grosse Tete near the end of Season 1's fourth episode, though Tony the Tiger isn't shown.

Tony was euthanized in 2017 due to health issues. He was 6 months old when he was sent to live at Tiger Truck Stop. He spent 17 years as a roadside attraction.

On the day Tony died, the Animal Legal Defense Fund released a statement expressing their regret.

"Despite our best efforts, he lived and died caged at a truck stop that could never provide the life he deserved," ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells said in the statement. "Tony’s tragic death demonstrates how our legal system leaves wildlife, including members of endangered species like Tony, extremely vulnerable to exploitation by incompetent or uncaring individuals."

The following year, animal activists were outraged when Sandlin acquired new mascots to replace Tony: a camel and baby coati.

In 2019, the Tiger Truck Stop made headlines again when a Florida woman freed herself from Caspar the camel by biting its testicles after she crawled into the animal's pen to retrieve her dog. Though Caspar's injuries were minor, a veterinarian prescribed the camel antibiotics out of precaution from the wild encounter.

The woman was cited for violating dog leash laws and trespassing into the enclosure.