A Bengal tiger missing for a week in Houston was discovered safe and healthy and relocated to an animal preservation reserve.
“The tiger appears to be in very good health,” Houston Police Department (HPD) Commander Ron Borza said at a news conference on Saturday, May 15.
— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) May 16, 2021
In a clip released by the police department, Borza and a woman known as the tiger owner’s wife were seen petting, playing with, and feeding the tiger with a bottle.
The 9-month-old, 175-pound tiger called “India” was wearing a turquoise, bejeweled collar.
India was seen roaming around a neighborhood on May 9, causing some consternation among residents as he lounged in front yards.
Victor Cuevas, the tiger’s supposed owner, left the scene with India in the car just as police arrived. When police arrested him on the same day, he no longer had the animal, and the investigation started.
Cuevas’s attorney, Michael Elliot, said after his client’s court hearing on Friday that the tiger fled Cueva’s possession after scaling the fence.
The tiger was then returned to the couple.
According to Borza, Cuevas’s wife called the police and took the tiger to BARC Houston, the city’s animal shelter, on Saturday night.
“It wasn’t found,” Borza continued. “It was brought to us.”‘
There have been no charges brought, and police have no idea how Cuevas, 26, came to possess India.
Borza warned, “In no way, shape, or form should you have an animal like that in your household,” adding that such animal can get 600 pounds when it totally matures into adulthood.
India was moved to the Cleveland Armory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas, on Sunday, May 16.
“Our hope is that we get full and legal custody of India so that he can live out his life here at Black Beauty Ranch, where he can have the life a tiger should—as close as possible to what he would have in the wild,” Almrud, senior director of the sanctuary, told reporters at a press conference on Sunday morning.
“Big cats like India express natural, unpredictable behaviors that can occur at any moment. Situations like this are why we are working to pass federal legislation. The Big Cat Public Safety Act would prohibit keeping big cats as pets,” Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States claimed in a statement.
Cuevas is being held on $300,000 bail after being charged with felony eluding authorities. According to police, Cuevas was previously detained in July 2020 and charged with homicide in connection with a deadly shooting outside a restaurant in Fort Bend County, Texas, in 2017. At the time of his apprehension this week, he had pleaded not guilty and was out on bail.