When things are investigated, knowledge is extended. When knowledge is extended, the will becomes sincere. When the will is sincere, the mind is correct. When the mind is correct, the self is cultivated. -- Confucius
Politically correct ideals are garbage: true wisdom comes from decades of deep thought and neutral observation. Only a so-called sociopath could ascertain wisdom from this crazy world in a neutral way. Cool thoughts- uncorrupted by modern politics, social norms, or societal ideals- are required for wisdom. Questioning everything, and going against the grain on all universally accepted norms is the path to true intelligence. The Gods notice this.

8/30/11

Tony the Tiger – symbol of the dark side of activism



It is amazing how much b.s. is spread around by people of 'impeccable credentials'. Going beyond the rumors and hype is an art. Unfortunately most people believe the first thing they hear- evidence or not- and any proof otherwise presented later is brushed off as lies. This is how most people think, and the liars know it. So they repeat their lies over and over in order to spread the lie as well as drive in the old untruth. It is an evil game, and there are always minions of the gullible to eat it up, repeating the lie because it was what they wanted to hear anyway. They parrot it, and birds of a feather flock together. The opposing flocks of parrots squawk of their unfounded truths, while inventing more lies about the other flock. Preaching to the choir sets in and the two groups soon devolve into deluded robotic parrots. And so it is with any issue.

I have had a unique opportunity to see both sides of a conflict for awhile now. I am placed in the middle of the Tony the tiger conflict. A truck stop in Louisiana has a pet tiger on display (the TTS, or Tiger Truck Stop). Animal activists want it confiscated and sent to a sanctuary; most want it sent to BCR or Big Cat Rescue in Florida. BCR said they will take it, but it will be up to the tiger's current owner where it goes if ordered removed. The park and zoo I mention below are the same place in Oklahoma, a large facility with thousands of animals. The ALDF is the Animal Legal Defense Fund and they are the ones suing.

A read of their lies below will give a nice overview of all of their claims.

Both sides think I am or at least was on their side. Some are not sure. It has become clear that the holier-than-thou animal rights activists have created many lies about this, and while the truck stop supporters have embellished some points, they are definitely on the higher ground when it comes to fact checking. Unfortunately the people who support the cause of promoting private ownership of exotic animals have flocked to this and taken it over with their propaganda. Those people have no more interest in facts than the animal rights ones. Their obsessive hell-bent campaign against the owner of BCR is a sidetrack to the truck stop case. So first, let's examine the ARA lie-list:


Top 10 lies of the animal rights activists regarding Tony the tiger:

1. Diesel fuel and/or exhaust fumes are dowsing and/or choking and/or poisoning the tiger all the time.
I had to put and/or because they can't decide on the details of this accusation. It is a rumor someone started and has no scientific basis whatsoever. It is simply repeated over and over with no thought to how nonsensical it is. Vapors and fumes are lighter than air and float upwards. Exhaust from semis is emitted about 15' high to begin with, then floats up and away. And have you ever smelled diesel fuel fumes at a truck stop? I have not, ever, anywhere or in any weather. What about two blocks away from the pumps and truck parking area? That's how far the tiger is from the alleged fumes. Has anyone taken an air sample from near the cage? Didn't think so. Hogwash...

2. The tiger is confined to an area with a concrete floor.
Then why is he seen constantly walking in the grass? It is illegal to keep him in the concrete only area, except when cleaning the grassy area. Videos taken all the time disprove this.

3. Lights are on him all night so he can't sleep.
There are not. Period. And his concrete block den is always dark day and night. Prove this with a current video.

4. He is suffering from the heat.
Southern Louisiana is pretty hot for us humans. But tigers are adapted to live in much hotter places like India. He will be fine. Especially since he has a law-mandated air conditioner in his den and a pool of water to bathe in.

5. He is neglected and ignored.
He gets constant attention and is checked on at least daily by his handlers that work at the truck stop. Being a cat he surely enjoys watching all the people and vehicles moving around. And sleeping, as cats do a lot.

6. He is sick somehow, his legs are atrophied, his paws may be cracked, and he is emaciated.
The illness is unclarified and never seems to manifest itself. What bystander has photographed the underside of his paws and proven they are cracked? And who has ever taken one single picture of him appearing skinny? No one that I know of. Ever. And his legs atrophied? Right. He is frequently checked by a veterinarian and treated as needed. No one has ever proven any of these things with so much as a single picture either.

7. He is stressed and paces constantly.
Then how come his legs are atrophied? Oops- conflicting lies there! Stress is unknown as we can't read an animal's mind. But he does not seem like it. He does not act violent. Pacing though he does sometimes- because he is a tiger. All big cats pace. They wander up to a hundred miles a day in the wild, so of course he will pace. It is normal and giving him exercise.

8. The environment is too noisy for him.
It is true the truck stop is near an interstate. And interstates are loud. But after 22 years I bet he is used to it. He has surely found a way to sleep through it by now, because he would have been dead of exhaustion otherwise by the first month. He can live with it just like wild ones live with the cacophony of a jungle with all its birds and monkeys screaming constantly.

9. The cage is filthy and the water is green all the time.
The cage has never been photographed with more than one pile in it. The handlers cannot rush out instantaneously every time he relieves himself. And the water was pictured one time with green moss stuff in it like birdbaths get. That is it. Maybe less before, but now that the authorities monitor it more frequently, the cage is cleaned daily.

10. The USDA has been citing this truck stop for over 20 years for animal welfare violations.
This is a gross exaggeration. The owner's father got into some trouble in Texas, and that should not be included and held against his son, but always is which is unfair. This truck stop in this state has been cited on 8 occasions from July of '01 to July of '07 (that's six years). Most were minor infractions. And this is even IF that is true, because it is certain no one can prove it. This info is ultimately based upon a list from PeTA and they will not prove it with USDA documents. The USDA will not release their records. So how do we know if even this is not exaggerated? We don't, and sure enough it has been expanded by activists to become an alleged “20 years of egregious violations!”. Get a grip.

One more honorable mention:
He is harassed by a hundred visitors per hour all day and all night.
This was started by a parish councilman who counted people one day and said there were a hundred one hour. But does that mean always, every day, and all night too? Doubtful at best. One hundred people per hour is actually less than two per minute anyway. Have you ever seen a video of a huge crowd of a hundred people gawking at him at the same time? I haven't. In any case, he can go into his den anytime and escape the people.

These accusations are the crux of the activists' arguments, and all are baseless. They are parroted hype with no evidence at all. But dramatic words abound: despicable, filthy, horrible, torture, hellhole...How about this word: Lies.

Now let's examine a few claims and counterclaims by the truck stop and its supporters:

1. Activists bang on the cage all the time to get Tony to look at their cameras.
This is impossible because the cage is not accessible to the public. It is surrounded by a fence a few feet out. If people bang on the fence, Tony can go into his den, or to the other side of the large enclosure he enjoys. And the area is monitored by staff to stop just such activities. Two instances of adults banging on the outer fence are mentioned by the truck stop owner, and those two people were assumed to be ARA's. The other instances are said to have been kids. 

2. The activists flash strobe lights in his face to see him roar.
This probably has been done, but it does not mean that animal activists are doing it. It means a lot of people are inconsiderate of animals and many people would do that to see a tiger roar. Blaming the activists is unfounded.

3. Activists have been trying to poison him with cigarettes and other items so he will become sick for their own ends.
More nonsense. As above, anyone could do that for any sadistic reason, and many probably would for a sick laugh. But only the activists? And how do you throw a pack of cigarettes through a chain link fence, then three feet over, then another layer of fence, and then the bars? Sounds difficult, though anyone could poison an animal kept outdoors in a public place, and the last suspects should be animal lovers. One knowledgeable person informed me of this incident : "...About two years ago I was talking to a young man at a bar when he said he was from a city past the TTS. I asked if he ever stopped there. He went on a tirade about the treatment of the tiger - which he knew nothing about in truth. He then commented that he and his friends had thrown cigarettes and stuff into the cage to see if the tiger would eat them 'and get sick so they'd have to give him up'. To be fair, he was drunk, but who makes crap like that up?...". While this blogger believes that statement, it is doubtful that random ARA's try stunts like this all the time.

4. The sanctuary they were going to send him to in Texas has refused them due to activist harassment, so options are nil. 
While partly true, it is still just one out of many sanctuaries in this country. Many other good ones are around, including three that said they will take Tony in if needed. One of these has an open acreage where he could run freely with other tigers. A refusal by one place in one state is not the end of all options. 

5. Tony's claws can't be removed, therefore he can't be re-homed.
Why is claw removal essential to moving a tiger to another home? Tony is already caged alone and will be no more lonely if housed separately somewhere else.

6. Lions are solitary animals, so tigers are too. They can't be put with more of their kind or they will kill each other.
Lions are social, tigers are not. But numerous sanctuaries place numerous tigers together, and sometimes even tigers and lions in the same cages. They can get along and do at many facilities. The place where this tiger's owner intends to send Tony has several multiple cat cages. Check his site linked below to view them.This becomes circular, as the argument is he will be placed alone in a cage anyway.

7. Tony will have to physically fight for food scraps and compete for vet care anywhere else.
They portray other places like Chinese zoos. At Chinese zoos, they dump live oxen into tiger pits so the public can have fun watching the fight. This is not China, and no sanctuary in America does that. All animals are fed daily individually at any facility here. If fighting ensues, the animals are permanently separated into different cages. This is how sanctuaries and zoos really work. Vet care is also not a contest; it is given to all animals in any facility. This argument is a scare tactic and a delusion.

8. Tony was not trained in the wild to hunt, so he can't obtain food at any other place.
Sanctuaries never feed their animals live game. They get vet prescribed meats and vitamins. They do not need to know how to hunt live animals down to keep from starving. They will be fed, just like he is now. The recent bruhaha about BCR having fed their lions three rabbits last summer is reaching fever pitch by the pro-exotic pet people, but it is entirely irrelevant. Even if they did, it is not unnatural and could be considered simply  a distasteful aspect of keeping wild carnivores. Regardless, it is not standard practice anywhere and Tony starving because he never was trained to hunt is paranoia.

9. BCR's cages are inadequate- rusty wire, small, not buried into ground, etc.
Irrelevant if Tony is not going there anyway. So why harp on it? A distraction is all this is. BCR has not yet had any cages blow away, to my knowledge.And their cages are much roomier than some people have portrayed by video cropping. As if it matters. Tony is not going there, so who cares?

10. If the activists want Tony's habitat improved, then they have to pay for it.
It may be true that the truck stop property includes 40 acres of unused land behind it, but why should that mean that anyone else has to pay for its development? The tiger's owner should pay for its care, no one else. Online activism is not a for-profit venture, and activists are not a gang of millionaires sending stacks of checks to BCR as portrayed. And even if they were, it is not the truck stop's business what other people do with their money. They are responsible for Tony, and claim ownership of him. If they want the back 40 made into something for Tony, his owner should have to pay for it.

And an honorable mention for this side as well:
Everyone who bothers the truck stop is conspiring together and of the same mindset.
Activists find this at once frustrating and laughable it is so wrong. The truck stop supporters constantly use free exchange of the activists' names, PeTA, ALDF, and other groups as if they are one entity. None of the real activists or animal rights groups have anything to do with the one so-called activist that they hate so much. Some people need to get their story straight and figure out exactly who they hate and why.


Six more problems, from BOTH sides:

1. Lies and exaggerations abound about the owners of both sides.
The past of BCR's owner or of TTS's owner are completely irrelevant as to how they treat animals now. And their current personal lifestyles are irrelevant. And speculations about them are irrelevant. These distractions are childish and fly from both sides constantly.

2. Claims of more money involvement than is true.
The truck stop likely does not take in a million a year in donations via its little wooden box on the fence, nor does BCR take in millions to build an impending cage for Tony. Okay, I am guessing here, but willing to bet these stories are highly exaggerated.

3. No one has measured anything to disprove the other side.
It would be so easy to disgrace the other side by taking a few simple measurements and recording it.
Air quality, distance in feet to the gas pumps or truck parking : none have been measured and posted. I asked both sides repeatedly to do so, and neither will. Which side is afraid of the results?
At least the tiger's owner has informed me of the cage size, which the activists claim is too small: " The entire enclosure is 3200 square feet, the play area is 1600 square feet and the shelter areas are 20'X20' or 400 square feet each."

4. Veterinary and other records remain hidden.
Why not release the tiger's vet records to prove his health? What about the city animal control officer charged with checking on compliance with the revised ordinance- public records there. No one will open nor release these records. No one has subpoenaed them. Is Tony microchipped as required by law? Is there a rifle on site with a trained user on the premises 24 hrs. a day? What are the city's records saying? And the vet records? It is all a mystery. Neither side is opening nor pursuing these nuggets of info. Why the activists have not properly pursued these facts makes one wonder what they are afraid of learning. At least the tiger owner has had a physical done, filmed it, and posted it online. See it here

5. Both sides are closed minded and love to argue.
This is illustrated by their sites and pages. They hate each other, and do not listen to one another. Unreasonable demands are made. It is a big brawl. No one acts more mature or tries to explain stuff or share info. It is a fight, and both sides revel in it. Most arguing is irrelevant talk about the owners of TTS and BCR.

6. The issue is used for grandstanding on bigger issues that are barely relevant.
The exotic animal trade has latched onto the truck stop side, while the animal rights crowd has glued itself onto the 'free him' argument. The issue of exotic pet ownership and breeding has overshadowed and obscured the real facts in this particular case.


There are three locations involved in this: the Tiger Truck Stop of Grosse Tete, LA; Big Cat Rescue of Tampa, FL; GW Memorial Animal Park of Oklahoma. The truck stop has the tiger in question. The place in Florida is a big cat sanctuary that has been willing to take the tiger if confiscated. The park in OK is a private zoo that the tiger will go to if confiscated. This is because of the friendship of the owners of the truck stop and the OK zoo. So let us now examine a few points about these three places...


Top 3 interesting points about each of the 3 places involved:

Tiger Truck Stop:
1. They constantly brag that lots of tigers were bred there, but do not mention that all but one (Tony) was ordered removed in 9/03 by the USDA for lack of care. One was in such bad shape, a pit had to be dug into the ground for the wheels to make the trailer floor even with the ground so it could hobble out of the transport trailer.(see this page, sections “Toby”, “Rainbow”, “Khan”, and “Tiger Truck stop Trio”. this page used to detail that story of their arrival, but does not now). 
Mr. Sandlin provided this statement about it: "As far as Toby, Rainbow, and Shere Khan: I agreed to relocate 2 tigers not 3, The decision was mine and not the USDAs, I included Shere Khan because I had 3 males in the exhibit and it was creating problems with males not getting along. So I decided to retire Toby and Rainbow, both over 19 years old (very old) and Shere Khan because he was another male. Shere Khan had nothing to do USDA accusations. I kept Tony because he was the youngest."

They also raffled a tiger off once to the public, and likely do have at least a few USDA violations from the past.

2. They did not bother to emplace a pool or make other improvements until required by law. The tiger was usually confined to its small cell without access to grass and had no pool at all until the parish council mandated it in 2010. Its current state is barely two years old, and before that the enclosure was more dilapidated, unclean, and confined for about 20 years.

3. The pool is a small pig trough. It is barely big enough for a tiger to swim in. A few dollars more would have bought a horse trough that is much larger. Miserly. Or, an in-ground pool like for gardens would be even better at little more expense. Never done, despite the owner's thank you on video to the activists for 'a million dollars worth of free advertising'. Tigers love to swim so why be so cheap on a pool?

Big Cat Rescue:
1. Tony would have less room to walk around. This is pretty important. They are landlocked in the middle of a city.
2. It is not between two interstates, as the zoo owner claimed in a video to negate the interstate noise argument. A simple use of Google Maps can confirm this.
3. Their hundreds of videos show clearly that they make ongoing attempts to enrich their animals lives with toys, companions, and special treats. This direct involvement is not seen at most places.

GW Park:
1. Their 'streetview' type page on their site reveals that they do have multiple cat cages together, including a tiger with a lion. The claim of Tony's impending isolation is nonsensical.
2. The ongoing gripes about BCR planning on charging people to look at Tony are laughable compared to this park's fees of 10. to 2,000. Check their site for details of their fees. (BCR charges 29.-550.).
3. In a video interview, their owner stated they only lost about 5 cats last year.Their owner demonizes BCR for having lost 119 cats. But BCR was founded in '92, which makes it 19 years old. This means they lost about 6 cats a year. Not a big difference. Their owner makes many other hypocritical claims as well.


Conclusion:

This tiger's owner was already being watched by the USDA and PeTA years before any other activists started this ruckus. It is the parish and local sheriff that allowed this exhibit to go on for years without discerning what level of permit(s) were needed. When the Revised Ordinance was finally issued along with major stipulations for the animal's welfare, the activists should have celebrated- but instead they flipped out and redoubled their efforts to have it taken to a much smaller cage in Florida. Lies were dreamed up and parroted on dozens of sites until a large animal rights group saw what looks to me like a P.R. op., and sued. Now, a legal technicality is being used to have the tiger removed from the state. The activists are still not satisfied and want it removed even sooner. What they are not considering is that the place the tiger goes to will be smaller and less good in several ways than where it is now. In the end, the activists in general will have caused this animal major undue stress and confinement for no factual reason other than their own hype. And, their tolerance of one particular so-called activist has delayed the process for years.

Meanwhile, the truck stop's owner is a nice guy who thinks prayer will resolve this in his favor. No matter how nice he is, bad things can happen to anyone- even if they are religious. Prayers and slogans are not enough. Exotic pet owners have rallied around him, but their numbers are few and they have no more evidence than the other side to defend their noise. Neither this businessman nor anyone else in the world should have been possessing a wild animal to start with, but unfortunately he did. As long as it was treated well, it should have been let be.There are several thousand other tigers privately owned in America alone, most of which are not treated well at all.

Mr. Sandlin had this to say about his tiger's treatment: " He has an air conditioner/heater in his den. Rubber mats to lie [on]. Steps to higher levels to climb up on. He has a pool, water sprinklers, a fan, bolo balls, logs, swinging tire, pumpkins, christmas trees, watermelons, blood-cicles, spices for scents, and he likes to play hide and seek. He likes to be petted. "
 
It is this writer's opinion that once the revised ordinance was enacted, the whole thing should have been dropped, or minimized to simply keep an eye on its enforcement.The way the cause was brought about was based upon lies and harassment, and that is wrong. Many were suckered into the false sob story and few have ever opened their eyes to the simple lack of evidence for any of the wild claims. Animal rights activists openly tolerated one person's lies/libel/harassment which hurt their credibility very badly. Everyone turned out the fool here, and if the lawsuit is successful, no one wins. The tiger will lose as well: losing space, personal attention, and familiar territory. It would then be moved to a smaller place and the activists will then surely start attacking that place and its owner. The tiger will likely die sad. Both sides can take credit for it, but most importantly animal activism has showed its true nature.

Poor Tony.


Related Links:
-Revised ordinance posted at bottom of this page.
.... (Legal updates on same page incl. final law status)
-Tiger Truck Stop's site
-One of many activist sites about this tiger
-Site of G.W. Exotic Memorial Animal Park, the zoo park in Oklahoma
-Outonline, the site that zoo's owner is on frequently; view some of his vids here
 -alternate view of the zoo-park here

-ALDF page on this
-PeTA page on this
-Related post on this blog about keeping tigers etc.

(c) james platt 2011

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