Anthony Marr’s CARE-7 tour blog #18
Houston TX, Dallas-Fort Worth TX, Grosse Tete LA, New Orleans LA
These last few days have been daily long-distance driving followed by speaking and media events, which have left me insufficient time nor adequate energy to compose any blog. So, now that I finally have a “free” day, I’ll devote it to catching up on emails, Facebook, Myspace, and blogging. This CARE-7 tour blog #18, therefore, promises to be long, covering 4 events in Houston TX, Dallas/Fort-Worth TX, Grosse Tete LA, and New Orleans LA.
#1, Houston. First and foremost, my compliments to Ted, Becky, Abby, Drew, their 2 dogs and 17 cats, for their “southern hospitality”, and not just very comfortable accommodation in their surprisingly immaculate home either.
When I accidentally broke one of their beautiful porcelain bowls, Becky said comfortingly, “Not to worry, I don’t like that bowl anyway,” and Ted personally cleaned up the mess, and later served me tea in my room.
Abby, the young lady who invited me to stay, and who wore a Sea Shepherd shirt at the presentation, gave me her stuffed white tiger as travel companion, a travel mug, and the key to the house – to keep!
When I was leaving, Becky said, “Whenever you need a place to stay, this house is yours, for as long as you want. Just enter with this key. You don’t even need to call.” And they gave me a care package to taken away – in a very nice fabric-covered cooler.
The second thing to be said is the Vegan World Radio interview by Shirley Wilkes-Johnston, on the night of May 19 when I first arrived in Houston from San Antonio. The experience was unlike that on any other radio interview. I was treated like one of their own, instead of a guest.
The event on May 22nd, Saturday, at the Loving Hut vegan restaurant, hosted by Kristen Lee Ohanyan, was another wonderful experience, even including the heckling by an older gentleman regarding my stand on global warming, which itself amounted to two-negatives-make-one-positive. They even made me a “Peace Cake”, shared by all.
Before leaving Houston, I should mention the two white tigers trapped in a dungeon-like restaurant display in the Aquarium. Back in 2004, while on CARE-1, I participated in a local campaign to keep the tiger “exhibit” from becoming a reality, including testifying in city council as a tiger conservation expert, but, since money talked the loudest, it was to no avail.
Now, the tigers are still there, trapped in that medieval prison – the indoor equivalent of Tony-the-Tiger in Louisiana (see below).
After a 7-hour drive from Houston came the next and last Texan city on this CARE-7 tour – Dallas/Fort Worth. The event organizer and accommodation host was the wonderfully genuine Shannon Morgan,
whose beloved dog Sophie was under the life-threatening combination of being seriously ill and being hit by a car where it hurt on the very day I was giving a talk in Houston. She called me while I was on my way to the Loving Hut, in tears, asking for my prayer and blessing for both her and Sophie, which of course I sincerely volunteered. While I was in the Loving Hut, waiting for the talk to begin, I called her asking how she and Sophie were faring, and she was more than extremely grateful. She even told Catherine what a spiritual person I was, which I could be, but in that instance, it was only a matter of caring.
The event venue was the Boys Activity Center, the alternative to the Spiral Diner, whose new owner refused to let her hold the event after-hours (5pm), for profit reasons I presume. Shannon worked hard on organizing the event, and made good her word to produce a good-sized audience, with many beautiful activists present.
One asked me what I thought about activism in Texas, its being an ultra-conservative state. I answered that the more conservative the background, the more advanced the activism. They themselves are the proof.
The drive to New Orleans the next morning, the 24th, was a 10-hour scenic cruise,
including a heart-rending interlude at the “Tiger Truck Stop”, where Tony-the-Tiger has languished in a small enclosure smaller than a basketball court for the 10 years since his birth.
Cindy Wines nd Sky Williamson took it upon themsleves to arrange media coverage for me, which brought out NBC Channel 33
and The Advocate newspaper.
While there, I asked the care-taker to call Michael Sandlin, the owner of the truck stop, for me to personally deliver a plea to let Tony go – to a larger and more natural-feeling big cat sanctuary to spend the rest of his days. The conversation was civil, and we mutually agreed to talk more in the coming days.
After the truck stop, I drove on to New Orleans to deliver my speech at Leslie Brown’s Manhattan-like apartment, with many refined members of the New Orleans Vegetarian Society present.
This morning, the 25th, the following article appeared in the The Advocate newspaper and its website http://www.2TheAdvocate.com, with 17 comments by blog time. Mission accomplished, for now.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Activist: La. shamed by tiger’s plight
Animal rights activist Anthony Marr talks to onlookers Monday in front of the cage at Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete where Tony, a 550-pound Siberian-Bengal tiger lives. Marr said hopes to raise awareness about the tiger’s condition so the animal can be placed in a sanctuary.
Capitol News Bureau
* By KORAN ADDO
* Advocate Westside bureau
* Published: May 25, 2010 – Page: 1B
GROSSE TETE — The condition of a tiger living at a truck stop as a roadside attraction is “a blight on the face of Louisiana,” an internationally known animal rights activist said.
Anthony Marr visited Tiger Truck Stop Monday to see Tony, a 550-pound, Siberian-Bengal tiger, as part of a 40-state tour.
“In India, in their natural habitat, there is one tiger for every 10 square miles. In Siberia, there is one tiger for every 100 square miles,” Marr said. “What I’m looking at is a 10 by 15 enclosure. I’m not saying dogs are inferior, but I wouldn’t treat a dog like this.”
Marr lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. In the animal rights community, he is known as the “Champion of the Bengal Tiger.” He was in Louisiana on the eighth stop in his six-month, 40-state Compassion for Animals Road Expedition, or CARE tour.
Standing in front of the cage where Tony paced in circles, Marr said he hopes he can garner attention from animal activists to put enough pressure on Iberville Parish, the state and the truck stop’s owner, Michael Sandlin, to have Tony placed in an animal sanctuary.
If that doesn’t work, Marr said, he will reach out to wealthy friends in the conservation community and offer to buy Tony from Sandlin.
As he snapped photographs of the tiger, Marr looked at Tony’s fenced-in enclosure with its concrete floors and a small patch of grass.
“This is probably the poorest tiger in the world,” he said. “His quality of life is zero. This is a beautiful state, but this is a blight on the face of Louisiana.”
“This tiger may give momentary pleasure to people who come see him,” Marr added. “It certainly won’t make their day, but it ruins the entire life of this poor creature.”
Sandlin, the truck stop owner, said he commends Marr for his conservation work, but disagrees that Tony is suffering.
Tony was born into captivity, raised as a pet and the truck stop is the only home he has ever known, Sandlin said.
“With the tiger’s natural habitat disappearing very quickly, I think it’s important that tigers be allowed to be kept in captivity,” he said.
Sandlin also confirmed that Marr has called him about selling the tiger, which costs Sandlin about $2,000 per month to keep.
“That’s not really something I’m considering. I’ve had tigers for 23 years,” he said.
The truck stop owner also said he takes exception to animal activists who only want to take the tiger away.
“They never offered money to help us build a swimming pool for Tony, or to expand his cage,” he said. “The only ones who offered something to benefit him was the Humane Society last year.”
Sandlin said he will consider moving Tony to an animal sanctuary only when the 10-year-old tiger gets too old or too sick to be exhibited.
But with the average life span for tigers kept in captivity being about 20 years, that will likely be several years away, Sandlin said.
Furthermore, a veterinarian examined the tiger May 19 and gave the animal a clean bill of health, he said.
“I can’t thank all the activists for any help they’ve given us, but I would like to thank them for a million dollars worth of free advertisements,” Sandlin said. “Business is better than ever.”
The tiger was at the heart of an animal-rights battle last year pitting Sandlin against activists trying to have the tiger removed.
Sandlin won permission from the parish and the state last year to keep the tiger after agreeing to guidelines specifying about how to care for the animal. As a condition of receiving that permission, Sandlin will not be allowed to have another tiger once Tony dies or is legally transferred from the parish.
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jwrig22: It really is a shame. At least Mike’s habitat is fairly big and nice. Tony’s is worse than the Baton Rouge Zoo! – Posted on May 25, 2010 at 2:08 AM
Anonymous: Mr Sandlin is a pig ! he just proved he cares nothing for that poor tiger he only cares about how much money he can make ! we have to keep fighting for Tony’s freedom!!! – Posted on May 25, 2010 at 4:40 AM
Anonymous: I like the idea of starting a fund for bigger and better place for Tony. A pool would be a good start. – Posted on May 25, 2010 at 5:00 AM
Anonymous: mr. sandlin is only thinking of his own interests, not tony’s. if he truly cared about tony, he would let him go to big cats rescue in florida. there he would truly be cared for and appreciated. I appreciate Anthony trying to help. this torturing of tony by making him live in such an environment, reflects terribly on the state of louisiana. you should all be very ashamed of this! i wonder if sandler would like sleeping at a truck stop with trucks roaring around constantly? so very sad and inhumane. – Posted on May 25, 2010 at 6:46 AM
Anonymous: It’s disgusting how Sandlin says he appreciates all the free advertisement and that business is better than ever. The man is obviously morally bankrupt! It’s obvious that all he cares about is money and not how much Tony suffers, breathing in gas fumes from the trucks night and day. I’m appalled that anyone would say that Tony is better off at a truck stop than at an animal sanctuary. – Posted on May 25, 2010 at 7:26 AM
Anonymous: People need to let this go unless they’re willing to raise money to buy the animal. The Tiget Truck Stop gets a free plug every few months when the latest activist comes through. Congratulations Mr. Marr you just raised the tiger’s value.(if buying it was even possible) – Posted on May 25, 2010 at 7:47 AM
Anonymous: Boycott his truck stop. I know the truckers may not be able to, but everyone else can. Clearly, the guy is concerned only with money. If keeping the tiger costs more than he makes off of it, then he will sell it. – Posted on May 25, 2010 at 8:04 AM
Anonymous: Anthony Marr a hero. He speaks for ALL ANIMALS! Ironically I was watching the news this morning and saw a story of the oil spill and the damage to the wetlands and wildlife in Louisiana.. People are outraged about this, as am I, yet they allow this beautiful animal to live in hell…. I’m a little confused Louisiana…. Aren’t ALL animals created equal????? – Posted on May 25, 2010 at 9:54 AM
Anonymous: This last comment was written by me, Toni Albanese in Idaho… I don’t know why it shows as anonymous but I am a person with a name and am proud to speak on behalf of Tony… – Posted on May 25, 2010 at 9:58 AM
Anonymous: “This is probably the poorest tiger in the world” said by Anthony Marr himself. Isn’t that enough? Sandlin said he will consider moving Tony to an animal sanctuary only when he gets too old or too sick to be exhibited. All of you that feel Tony would be fine with a ‘nicer’ enclosure are not seeing the big picture. Sandlin DOES NOT have Tony’s best interest at heart as you can see by that comment, and this one “I can’t thank all the activists for any help they’ve given us, but I would like to thank them for a million dollars worth of free advertisements,” Sandlin said. “Business is better than ever.” This is a man that claims to love Tony but what he loves is the money Tony brings him. None of us who DO have Tony’s best interest at heart are backing down anytime soon. Thank you Anthony Marr, for standing with us and seeing that Tony deserves so much better. He may only have 10 years left, let’s make them the best 10 years Tony has ever had! Posted by ~Angie Tipler~ – Posted on May 25, 2010 at 11:04 AM
Anonymous: Yeah….. but what about Mike? Oh, it’s ok for him to stay locked up because he serves a “purpose” and has a fancy smancy cage? And his purpose pertains to sports so in this city he has about a .01% chance of being sent to a more livable sanctuary with Tony. If I was Mike, I would be upset with the folks trying to free Tony and not him. – Posted on May 25, 2010 at 11:16 AM
Erica: Tony needs go to a sanctuary to enjoy the rest of his life. The life he lives is NO way for any animal to live. Being a spectacle and having to breathe in exhaust fumes every day is no life for him. – Posted on May 25, 2010 at 12:13 PM
Anonymous: Tony needs to be relocated–Period! – Posted on May 25, 2010 at 1:20 PM
Sera: Come on Iverville parish–get with the program! – Posted on May 25, 2010 at 1:23 PM
Maj D Bleak: I agree with the individual who suggested raising funds to buy the tiger and then relocate it to a more suitable environment. As per usual, an empty wagon makes a lot of noise. Evidently, those who are protesting the loudest aren’t willing to put money, time, or effort toward resolving the issue. Typical. – Posted on May 25, 2010 at 1:33 PM
Sera: But why should it be up to everyone else BESIDES Mr Sandlin to raise money for a better enclosure? He took on this responsibility when he decided he had to have tigers as an “Attraction”. Besides that, where is ANY form of enrichment–it doesn’t take much someitmes! So he needs to be prepared to do it right–which he is NOT! – Posted on May 25, 2010 at 2:07 PM
Loulou: Someone once told me; if you don’t support it they could not keep it. Tony is most likely the truck stops money maker because people know there is a live tiger at the “Tiger Truck Stop”. It is the tourist that stop off the interstate wanting to see the Tiger that keeps the exhibit going. If people stopped going they could not afford to keep up the cost of $2,000 a month cost to keep Tony in this hot box he lives in. Summer is only beginning, the tempature in my car today said 103 degrees. It has to get outrageously hot in the mid-summer. I know they say he doesnt have a pool but, does he have anything to keep him cool? True Tony was raised there and he knows of nothing better. I think if they want to keep him they should find a way to raise the money to give Tony a bigger and better place to live with lots of shade, grass and a pool of some sort and away from the noise and fumes from the trucks. Let the tourist that enjoy the attraction drop money in a box for a “Save the Tiger Fund”. Well then I guess you would have to make sure it went to Tony and no one else. – Posted on May 25, 2010 at 2:41 PM
Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)
http://www.facebook.com (search for “Anthony Marr Heal Our Planet Earth”)