A tiger that spooked neighbors after brief sightings in a Houston neighborhood was located after a week of searching and appeared to be unharmed, police announced Saturday night.
Miami World – AP
A short video tweeted by Houston police showed Major Ron Borza sitting next to the tiger, stroking the animal and noting that it had been a long week of searching.
“But we have him, and he’s healthy,” Borza said, as the wife of the man who police said owned the cat sat next to him and fed the tiger from a bottle. The tiger was being held at BARC, the city’s animal shelter, but was expected to be transferred Sunday morning to the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, an animal sanctuary in Murchison, Texas, southeast of Dallas.
Authorities have been searching for the tiger, a 9-month-old male named India, since it was spotted May 9 in a neighborhood west of Houston. At that moment, he was about to be shot by an off-duty agent, before Victor Hugo Cuevas, whom the police accuse of being the owner, took him away in a car.
At a news conference Saturday night, Borza said Cuevas’s wife, Giorgiana, turned the tiger over to police on Saturday after a friend of hers contacted those responsible for BARC.
“It is Victor’s tiger. That’s what (Giorgiana Cuevas) said… He says they have had the animal for nine months, ”said Borza. The tiger passed through several hands, he said, but Cuevas’ wife knew at all times where he was during the week the authorities were looking for him.
Police were still trying to determine where the tiger was this week and whether related charges would be filed. A city ordinance bans tigers in Houston unless the person in charge, such as a zoo, is licensed to keep exotic animals.
However, Cuevas’ attorney, Michael W. Elliott, reiterated Saturday night that his client is not the owner of the tiger. “I’m not sure it makes any difference who technically owns India, as they don’t have a birth certificate or title.”
“Victor was not the primary caregiver for India, nor did India stay with him most of the time,” Elliott told The Associated Press. “Victor was often involved in caring for India. Victor loves India like anyone would love a favorite pet (…) He treated India with love and a fantastic treatment in all aspects ”.
Cuevas was detained on Monday and charged with resisting arrest for allegedly fleeing his home with the tiger when authorities came for a warning about a dangerous animal.
At the time of his arrest, there was already a warrant against him on a murder charge in a 2017 shooting in neighboring Fort Bend County. Cuevas has maintained that the shooting was in self-defense, Elliott said.