Friday, May 6, 2011

やった! (yatta!)

A few weeks ago I posted a link to an article about the Animal Legal Defense Fund's lawsuit to free Tony the Tiger, a Siberian-Bengal tiger, being held in a cage at a Louisiana truck stop. Today, victory for Tony was announced when a East Baton Rouge District Court judge granted ALDF's request for a permanent injunction against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries. The Department is enjoined from renewing the annual permit required to allow Grosse Tete Tiger Truck Stop to exhibit the big cat under Louisiana law.

True Blood's Kristin Bauer recorded a video urging support for ALDF's campaign to free Tony. The star power behind the campaign went supernova when Leonardo DiCaprio encouraged his facebook and twitter followers to help end the inhumane conditions of Tony's captivity. Thanks to these celebrities and others (hopefully a few of this blog's readers), ALDF went into court with 31,000 signatures petitioning the state of Louisiana to deny the permit to Michael Sandlin, owner of the truck stop.

I have a personal connection to this story through one of my closest friends, Matthew Liebman, who is a staff attorney for ALDF and was in court today in Louisiana advocating on behalf of the law (former Louisiana Representative Warren Triche, a co-plaintiff in the case, had authored the bill banning the private ownership if big cats), animal welfare, and general decency. Every time I doubt my reasons for going to law school, Matt always pulls off something amazing like this to remind me that lawyers can make a difference. Thank you Matt, the ALDF, Warren Triche, and the law offices of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz, P.C., who provided pro bono assistance on this case.

The ruling only enjoins the Department from renewing the permit which means that Tony will remain on exhibit at the truck stop until the current permit expires in December of this year (2011). ALDF is working with the Department to help find Tony an appropriate sanctuary. Stephen Wells, Executive Director of ALDF, had this to say.
Today, the law was upheld in the state of Louisiana, which has explicit regulations designed to protect tigers like Tony... It is an incredible victory for ALDF, the tens of thousands around the world who have supported this campaign, and most of all, for Tony. We eagerly look forward to the day that he leaves behind the noise and fumes of the Tiger Truck Stop for a new life of freedom that he has never known.
You can read the press release or find out about other campaigns and ways to get involved with animal welfare at the

UPDATE: Yay! Matthew's in the New York Times.

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