Tony the Tiger Gets Evicted from Truck Stop


GROSS TETE, LA — Hell, evidently, will soon be a great place for a game of shinny. Because it’s about to ice up. readers might remember that in May of this year, Michael Sandlin, the owner ofThe Tiger Truck Stop in Louisiana, said that “hell will freeze over” before he lets go of his beloved Siberian pet tiger Tony.

He was responding to a campaign by animal-rights activists, who had petitioned the Court to revoke Sandlin’s right to keep the tiger on his property. And Sandlin, who had raised the 550-lb animal since the tiger was 11 weeks old, was determined to hang on to the cat, a tourist attraction.

This week, Louisiana District Court Judge Mike Caldwell ruled in favor of a motion by the Animal Legal Defense Fund. (The Court had made a similar ruling in August but it was appealed pending a second trial. That trial wound up this week, and Sandlin lost.)

Sandlin, who was raised in the truck stop business, bought the Grosse Tete location in ’88. His brother found himself in possession of two tigers that year and Sandlin made a home for them at the truck stop. Over the years, the truck stop has been home to about 13 tigers all told. Some have passed on, some gone to tiger retirement homes.

“It’s a small mom-and-pop business,” Sandlin says, “We’re famous for our red beans and rice with alligator sausage as well as many other Cajun dishes.

“Truck drivers that come to the truck stop on a regular basis will tell you that Tony recognizes them and gets excited to see them when they visit.

Even if you haven’t been to the Tiger Truck stop, you might have had a glimpse of Tony when the place was featured in a tawdry thriller called Palmer’s Pickup, in which a cougarish Rosanna Arquette plays an oversexed gun-totin’ female truck driver. is still waiting for word of Sandlin’s formal (or informal) response to this week’s ruling.