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James A. Marples: Respect 'Tony' the tiger's well-being | | Shreveport Times

James A. Marples: Respect 'Tony' the tiger's well-being Shreveport Times

James A. Marples: Respect 'Tony' the tiger's well-being
I read the article "State: Truck stop can continue live tiger exhibit" (Friday's editions of The Times). On one hand, I am happy for Tiger Truck Stop owner Michael Sandlin for his securing a legal permit allowing him to keep "Tony," a 10-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger on display at his Grosse Tete truck stop throughout 2011. However, I hope that after that time expires, a more permanent home can be found for "Tony," the last privately owned big and exotic cat in Louisiana.
Tigers belong in the wild or, if they are domesticated here, they belong in an animal refuge or sanctuary. The Wild Animal Orphanage in San Antonio was mentioned in the article as one possible option.
I am not promoting any particular destination. But large exotic animals need wide open spaces to roam and a habitat that is more livable and carefree instead of cramped confinement.
I grew up enjoying seeing rare and exotic animals perform at Shrine circuses. Even though I am a Shriner, I have placed a greater priority on animal rights.
I believe people can still enjoy seeing rare animals. But in our modern age of fast, convenient travel for humans and ample accommodations such as motels along highways, I say let the people come to an animal sanctuary. Let the rare and exotic animals live a more carefree life without being shuttled around on tour doing tricks or being hoarded as someone's novelty item or curio.
Times have changed. Now is the time for more respect toward the animal's well-being.
James A. Marples lives in Longview, Texas

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