Sandlin keeps Tony, a 550-pound Siberian-Bengal mix, in 3,200-square-foot enclosure at his rundown truck stop in Grosse Tete, practically within the shadow of Tiger Stadium but deep within the miasma of diesel fumes at his rickety place of business. Sandlin was grandfathered into state law in 2014 and allowed to skirt a law that prohibits private ownership of big cats and other large exotic animals.
But poor Tony — poor, poor Tony — lives in a barren cage with a small cinder-block enclosure to escape the heat, all for the minimal and dubious commercial benefit of a paltry stream of Texas- and Mississippi-bound curiosity seekers who pull off the interstate, observe the depressing environs and get back on the road, their day a little more joy-bare for the experience. We’d wager maybe one in 10 actually duck into Sandlin's redneck curio shop of a gas station for a Slim Jim. Sandlin!
Now consider Mike’s majestic habitat on the LSU campus, according to the university:
The new environment created for Mike is over 15,000 square feet in size with lush planting, a large Live Oak tree, a beautiful waterfall and a stream evolving from a rocky backdrop overflowing with plants and trees. The habitat has, as a backdrop, an Italianate tower, a campanile, that creates a visual bridge to the Italianate architectural vernacular that is the underpinning of the image of the entire beautiful LSU campus. This spectacular new habitat features state-of-the-art technologies, research, conservation and husbandry programs. It is, in essence, one of the largest and finest Tiger habitats in the United States.
Someone, please, reach out to Sandlin and tell him, if he really loves Tony he’ll do the right thing. Start a petition. And for LSU, which has indicated it will replace Mike VI, this is like getting a rescue dog. Big hearts prevail all around. Hashtag something or other right here!