Missing Houston Tiger Transported To Texas Animal Sanctuary – CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – A tiger, which startled residents after briefly wandering around a Houston neighborhood, was taken to a wildlife sanctuary Sunday after police found the animal the day before after a nearly week-long search.

The 9-month-old man named India is now being cared for at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, an animal shelter in Murchison, Texas, southeast of Dallas, said Noelle Almrud, senior director of the sanctuary.

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“The Black Beauty Ranch will provide him with a safe sanctuary, adequate nutrition, enrichment, an expansive naturally wooded habitat to roam safely, and everything else he needs to be the healthy wild tiger he deserves, “she said.

The sanctuary is home to nearly 800 pets and exotic animals, including two other tigers found in recent years – one in Houston in 2019 and one in San Antonio in February.

Houston police announced Saturday night that India had been found safe and unharmed. In a short video tweeted by the Houston police, Cmdr. Ron Borza sat next to the tiger.

“We have him and he’s healthy,” said Borza as he patted the tiger and as a woman fed him.

The commander of the HPD Major Offenders, Ron Borza, is relieved that “India” is now safe: https://t.co/3w2CZznKu9 pic.twitter.com/RiNviPFzq3

– Houston Police (@houstonpolice) May 16, 2021

The tiger was held at BARC, the Houston city animal shelter, until sanctuary officials picked it up on Sunday morning.

Authorities had been looking for the tiger since it was discovered in a West Houston neighborhood on May 9. At the time, it was nearly shot by an off-duty MP before it was driven away in a car by Victor Hugo Cuevas, the owner of the police force.

At a press conference on Saturday night, Borza said that Cuevas’ wife Giorgiana handed the tiger over to police on Saturday after a friend contacted BARC officials.

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“It’s Victor’s tiger. That’s what Giorgiana Cuevas told me… She says they have had this animal for nine months, ”said Borza. He claimed the tiger had been passed on to different people, but that Cuevas’ wife knew where the tiger was at any time this week when authorities looked for it.

Police are still trying to determine where exactly the tiger was held this week and whether there are any charges against the tiger. Tigers are not allowed within the Houston city limits under a city ordinance unless the handler, such as B. a zoo is licensed to have exotic animals.

But Cuevas’ attorney, Michael W. Elliott, continued to insist on Saturday night that his client did not own the tiger.

“Victor was not the main owner of India, nor did India stay with him for most of the time,” Elliott told The Associated Press. “However, Victor was often involved in caring for India. Victor loves India like any other favorite pet … He has treated India with love and fantastic treatment in every way. “

Cuevas was arrested by Houston police on Monday and charged with evading arrest for allegedly escaping his home with the tiger after officials responded to a phone call about a dangerous animal.

At the time of his arrest by Houston Police, Cuevas was already in custody for murder in a fatal shootout in neighboring Fort Bend County in 2017. Cuevas has claimed the shooting was self-defense, Elliott said.

Cuevas was released on Wednesday on a separate loan for evasion. But the Fort Bend County Attorney’s Office then tried to detain him without charge of murder. After a full-day hearing on Friday, a judge revoked Cuevas’ current $ 125,000 bond for murder and issued a new $ 300,000 bond. He remains locked up.

During Friday’s trial, Deputy Wes Manion of the Waller County Sheriff’s Office, who lives in the Houston neighborhood where the tiger was seen, testified that he interacted with the animal for about 10 minutes to make sure that it wasn’t after someone else. He said Cuevas came out of his house and shouted, “Don’t kill it.” He grabbed the tiger by the collar and kissed the top of the head before leading him back to his house. Various videos of the tiger’s encounter with Manion have been posted on social media.

Elliott said Cuevas didn’t do anything illegal because Texas doesn’t have a statewide law prohibiting the private possession of tigers and other exotic animals.

Kitty Block, President and CEO of the United States Humane Society, which operates the sanctuary, said while India seemed safe, “Big cats like India express natural, unpredictable behaviors that can occur at any time.” Borza said India already weighs 79 kg, it can “do a lot of damage” and is only getting bigger.

“In situations like this, we work to get federal laws passed. The Big Cat Public Safety Act would forbid keeping big cats as pets, ”said Block.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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