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Murder suspect free on bond; Carole Baskin offers reward for missing tiger

Screenshot from video of a tiger loose in Houston, TX

A tiger loose in a suburban Houston, TX, neighborhood May 9 has still not been found and the man seen taking the tiger inside the house by its collar has been released on bond.

Victor Hugo Cuevas, 28, was out on bond for a 2017 homicide when a tiger was spotted loose and roaming outside on Sunday. Videos taken by onlookers show a neighbor who is an off-duty police officer confronting the tiger with a gun while Cuevas tries to convince the man to let him get the tiger.

Victor Hugo Cuevas holds a tiger by the collar as he is confronted by a man with a gun

After bringing the tiger in the house the Houston Police Department (HPD) said Cuevas loaded the tiger into his vehicle and fled the scene. Officers attempted to pursue him but lost sight of him. He was arrested Monday night on a charge of evading arrest and he was released on bond yesterday.

In a press conference, Cuevas lawyer denied the 9-month-old male tiger, named India, is owned by Cuevas and said Cuevas only helped get the tiger back into the house. He said they are working with HPD to identify the owner of the tiger and determine its location. He also refused to say where Cuevas took the tiger when he fled Sunday night and said Cuevas does not own a vehicle by the HPD's description.

Several media outlets have listed the name of the tiger's owner as "D" or "Deandre," while Facebook posts and comments have pointed to a Houston woman previously charged with keeping exotic animals in her home as the possible owner.

It is legal to keep a tiger as a pet in Texas, but rules and regulations vary by county. In Houston, owning a tiger is a misdemeanor violation, punishable with a fine up to $500.

The issue with the Houston tiger is the fourth high-profile tiger incident in Texas in the past six months.

Dec. 2020 - A tiger cub named Sitaara was seized from a private owner in Grand Prairie and rehomed to Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary.
Feb. 2021 - A tiger cub named Elsa was found freezing in a winter storm in San Antonio and was rehomed to Black Beauty Ranch.
March 2021 - A tiger cub and a bobcat were seized from a private owner in San Antonio. The tiger was rehomed to Downtown Aquarium Houston and the bobcat was rehomed to Center for Animal Research and Education (CARE).

The tiger in Houston is not believed to be loose and HPD said in a press conference that finding the tiger is a top priority.

Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue, Tampa, FL, has offered a $5,000 reward to the person who safely turns India over to a sanctuary accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries as long as the person's efforts are sufficient "to convict both buyer and seller involved in the transfers of the tiger."


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