Generally, when a restaurant chain is threatened with a lawsuit, they’re dealing with angry customers. But Houston-based chain Landry’s Inc. is facing litigation over something that didn’t even happen in the restaurant.
The Houston Chronicle reports that the Animal Legal Defense Fund is accusing Landry’s owner Tilman Fertitta of mistreating four rare white tigers owned by the company. The tigers are currently housed in an exhibit at the Downtown Aquarium owned by the company, and allegedly forced to live in what the group calls a “Landry’s sponsored dungeon” without access to “sunlight, fresh air, or natural surfaces.”
"Landry's, Inc. should stick to the restaurant business and leave the housing of tigers to those who are able to provide big cats with proper care and naturalistic habitats rather than sacrificing the well being of an endangered species for the sake of tourist dollars,” ALDF executive director Stephen Wells told the Chron.
Landry’s strongly denied any allegations of wrongdoing, saying that the company would file a countersuit against the group for its “libelous and slanderous conduct.” Scope out the full statement from Landry’s general counsel Stephen L. Scheinthal below:
We are outraged at the false and manipulative statements of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and its counsel. Landry's will not tolerate their libelous and slanderous conduct and will be filing a lawsuit against all such parties. The Downtown Aquarium has been an AZA accredited institution since it opened its doors in 2003 and has served as an educational experience for thousands of school children since its existence.
Our tigers receive the highest level of care and treatment and have always exhibited the signs of well-maintained animals. We are aware of the proposed changes to the AZA accreditation standards and once enacted, we will make every effort to comply to the new standards. If we are unable to make such changes, we will move our tigers to a new home but not to any of the sanctuary facilities suggested by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, as sanctuary facilities have been accused of violating the Animal Welfare Act as well as failing to prevent physical harm, provide adequate food, water, or medical care to their animals.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund has given Landry’s 60 days to find suitable homes for the tigers. If Landry’s does not comply, the group will move forward with the suit.