The preposterous Houston tiger story

A Bengal tiger was spotted strolling around a neighborhood in the city of Houston.

If that was not weird enough, check out what happened afterwards.

Houston police were still searching on Saturday for a tiger that scared locals when it was seen briefly lurking around a suburban neighborhood last weekend. The fugitive felid is not believed to have attacked anyone.

Victor Hugo Cuevas, who allegedly owns the nine-month-old male, named India, faces an evading arrest charge after he fled from the officers who responded last Sunday night to a call about a “dangerous animal”, authorities said.

Manion said he identified himself and instructed Cuevas not to leave after he put the animal in the back of a white SUV. Cuevas fled when police arrived.

After his arrest it was reported that he was already out on bail for a murder charge in neighboring Fort Bend county, over a 2017 shooting. Cuevas claims self-defense.

So the police chased the SUV but it escaped. They later found the man but not the tiger. Did the tiger drive away in the SUV?

It is unsafe for a tiger to be loose in Texas, a state with a huge number of gun owners only too eager to fire at anything that moves. The tiger should be sent back to the greater safety of the jungles in India.


  1. blf says

    And from the link in the OP, Cuevas’s lawyer, Michael W Elliott, says Cuevas doesn’t own the tiger, and Cuevas “only knew the tiger owner’s first name”.

    From June 2018, More tigers live in US back yards than in the wild. Is this a catastrophe? (“It is easier to buy a tiger in some states than to adopt a rescue dog — and only 6% of the animals are housed in approved facilities. This is bad for the big cats — and for humans”). Apparently, “Seven thousand of the big cats live in US captivity, whereas […] there are as few as 3,890 wild tigers worldwide.” However, that c.7000 value doesn’t quite match up to Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge, “In 2011, 468 facilities in the USA kept 2,884 tigers” — I speculate that much lower figure isn’t counting too many backyard-type “facilities”. (And, apparently, “In 2007, over 4,000 captive tigers lived in China”.)

    The first link (with the c.7000 figure) cites the BBC, Does the US have a pet tiger problem? (also June 2018):

    Texas is also well-positioned for the cross-border trade in tigers with Mexico. Exotic animal seizures at the border used to be mostly birds and reptiles coming from Mexico, but the trade has reversed with mostly tigers and cats bred in the US being smuggled into Mexico.

    Most estimates of America’s tiger numbers stem from a 2005 study by Brian Werner of the Tiger Missing Link Foundation, which estimated America had just under 5,000 tigers in zoos, sanctuaries and individual ownership.

    The Feline Conservation Federation did its first big cat census in 2011, and in 2016 completed a five-year follow-up to establish population trends.

    It reported the total number of big cats in the US fell from 6,563 in 2011, to 5,144, a decrease of 22%. […]

    6563 (in 2011) ≠ 2884 (also 2011), and then throw in the smuggling-out of the States (suggesting even more which aren’t being accounted-for), and… Well, perhaps no-one has a very good grasp of the number of tigers in the States, but that c.7000 doesn’t seem to be outlandish. (As the BBC points out, Texas is a prime area for keeping tigers (and not just because of the smuggling opportunities), for both legal and environmental reasons.)

  2. blf says

    ‘We got him’: police finally find tiger that came to a Texas suburb:

    In a short video tweeted by Houston police, Commander Ron Borza can be seen sitting next to the tiger, petting the animal and saying it has been a long week searching for it.

    “But we got him, and he’s healthy,” Borza said as the wife of the man police allege is the animal’s owner sat next to him and fed the tiger with a baby bottle.

    The lawyer (see @1) “continued to insist his client doesn’t own the tiger, saying, ‘I am not sure it makes any difference who technically owns India as he does not have a birth certificate or title’.” Eh? Among other things, as noted in the OP’s link, “tigers are not permitted inside Houston city limits unless the handler is licensed.”

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