A tiger that was roaming a Houston neighborhood last week has been turned in to authorities and placed at a sanctuary, but Houston Police Department’s handling of the tiger and its owners has some people upset.
Last Sunday the 9-month-old male tiger named India was filmed loose in the street where an off-duty police officer who lives in the neighborhood held the tiger at gunpoint. A man, later identified as Victor Hugo Cuevas, is seen taking the tiger into a suburban Houston home. Victor then loaded the tiger into his vehicle and sped off with it, evading police.
At the time of his escape with the tiger, Victor was free on bond in a murder case. He was arrested the next day for charges of evading police and was free on bond two days later.
Victor’s lawyer said numerous times that the tiger did not belong to Victor and just because Victor brought the tiger into the house doesn’t mean he was the owner. He claimed the tiger was owned by a man named "D" or "Deandre."
For the past week HPD has been following up on leads and searching for the missing tiger, which is illegal to keep in Houston. On Friday night HPD gave a press conference, stating they believed the tiger had been passed around to up to eight different homes in the past week, in order to evade detection.
But Saturday night, HPD tweeted a video of themselves in a trailer with the tiger who they said is owned by Victor and his wife Gia. In the video, Gia is seen bottle feeding India, who wears a blue collar with rhinestones, while officers pet the tiger.
In a press conference later that night, HPD Commander Ron Borza confirmed that the tiger’s owner turned it in to authorities and he said officers let Gia in the trailer with India to lessen his stress.
“We got in the trailer with [the tiger] and Gia fed him while we sat there and pet him but the animal likes attention,” Borza said at the press conference. He then went on to warn people that they shouldn’t have an animal like a tiger in their home.
One source who viewed the video told Roadside Zoo News that Gia is a criminal.
“She hid the tiger this whole time and she should be in handcuffs but she’s cute so they sit and pet the tiger with her,” she said.
HPD confirmed they believe the tiger was with Gia for the past week, and was not passed around to up to eight places like they previously stated. HPD also confirmed that no charges are pending against Gia or Victor for having the tiger.
Borza said they did not question Gia on where the tiger was purchased from but said the investigation is ongoing.
“I just wanted to get the tiger safe and get it over here,” Borza said.
The tiger has been sent to Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch where he will live in a half acre habitat.
“India won’t be treated like a pet on a leash anymore.” Black Beauty Ranch posted on Facebook. “His collar is now off and he can be the wild animal he deserves to be.”