Roundup: Tony the truck stop tiger back in headlines, another Kelty cabover view, and speaking of gators …

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Tiger Truck Stop, photo by Kris Ewing

Michael Sandlin, owner of the famous Tiger Truck Stop in Gross Tete, La., has been in the crosshairs of folks like the Animal Legal Defense Fund for years — those who would force the removal by mostly legal means of the full-grown tiger who’s lived in a sizable enclosure at the truck stop for lo the last decade and a half.

Tony, as the tiger is known, is not the first such tiger kept by Sandlin and his father and brother before him in Texas and Arizona, as the following podcast makes clear, part of the “Criminal” series, and well worth a listen. The podcast, originally published early this summer, follows here:

I’ve talked to Sandlin before and written about the tiger a few times, including some drivers’ 2010 call for a boycott of the truck stop over the tiger, but this piece well captures the issues behind the the tiger’s captivity there, the “legal limbo” he’s in. And it’s quite a portrait of Sandlin, who’s grandfathered in under a Louisiana law that prohibits owning exotic animals. But after Tony dies, and he’s getting older, no replacement tiger would be permitted.

“If you asked me 10-20 years whether this could ever happen in Louisiana,” Sandlin says in the podcast, “I’d have said you were crazy.”

Kelty cabover, with matching trailer
Kyle Kelty, current owner of the restored 1976 International TranStar cabover originally owned by his grandfather, Jack, sent along a couple more shots of the truck with its matching flatbed, which you can see here. There’s one of himself, too. Always nice to put a face with a name — neither the flatbed nor Kelty himself was I able to see out at the Guilty By Association Truck Show a couple weeks back where I came across the unit, though regular readers will recall I caught up with Okla.-based Kelty in the aftermath. Enjoy.


Kyle KeltyKyle Kelty

And speaking of  tigers …
Ever heard the one about the Tiger Truck Stop and the alligator?

Ronnie KingRonnie King

I ran into Jamestown, Tenn.-based builder and sometime owner-operator and Pride & Polish judge Ronnie King in Joplin at the show, and he promptly told me the story, which starts at the Tiger Truck Stop, where a van hauler on his way out comes across a gator struggling in the on-ramp back to the highway and, feeling altruistic and with a little extra space in the trailer, decides he’ll load the alligator up and take him to a more hospitable place, a swampy area near where he’s headed to unload. Well, he wrestles with the gator and eventually does just that.

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Now, I can’t do the rest of the story justice, so you’ll just have to ask King to tell you that one next time you happen to run across him. Let’s just say it ends with the trucker scratched up by something other than alligator claws — think steel belts, rubber …

Stay safe out there …

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