Texas Murder Suspect’s Tiger Taken Into Custody After Disappearing For Nearly One Week
The male feline, named India, was 9 months old and already weighed 175 pounds.
Nine-month-old Bengal tiger called "India" is seen in a cage after being captured by authorities in Houston, Texas [via Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch Facebook page]
A Bengal tiger that recently got loose in Texas and roamed free before vanishing for nearly a week is now on his way to a better home.
“We are happy to report that the missing tiger seen in a Houston neighborhood last week has been found and appears to be unharmed,” authorities said in a May 15 tweet.
Animal control officials planned to transport the tiger, a male named India, to the Humane Society-run Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas, where the animal will have around a half-acre habitat to himself.
“Our goal is to provide him the best quality of life for the rest of his life,” Noelle Almrud, the ranch’s senior director, told NBC News.
On May 9, an off-duty deputy responded to reports of a tiger wandering around. When authorities arrived, 26-year-old Victor Hugo Cuevas — who was out on bond after pleading not guilty to a 2017 murder case out of Fort Bend County, Texas — collared the tiger and brought him into a house, according to CNN.
Victor Hugo Cuevas. Cuevas, who had been free on bond from a murder charge, was arrested Monday, May 10, 2021, after neighbors found a pet tiger wandering around a Houston neighborhood. [Houston Police Department via AP]
A short time later, Cuevas allegedly put India in an SUV and fled the scene.
Cuevas was later taken into custody and is currently being held at the Fort Bend County Jail on a $300,000 bond, according to online records.
ABC News reported Cuevas faces charges of felony evading police in connection with the incident.
Cueva’s wife, Georgia “Gia” Cuevas, eventually surrendered the feline, which is 9 months old and weighs 175 pounds, to an area animal shelter, Houston Police Department Cmdr. Ron Borza said at a May 15 press conference, ABC News reported.
“I think the public thought that it would be easy to catch a tiger, but it wasn't at all,” Cmdr. Borza explained. “I presumed right that it was still in Houston and I'm glad it worked out this way.”
Michael Elliott, Victor Cuevas’ attorney, has denied the tiger, which climbed a fence to escape the property where he was kept, belongs to his client.
According to NBC News, tigers are not legally allowed in Houston, however, Harris County, where the city is located, and Texas do allow people to own the animals as long as they follow a strict set of rules and requirements.
“Just because we got India back today, doesn't mean there aren't other exotic animals in the city of Houston," Borza noted. “I'd like to round them all up and put them in a safe environment, because it's not safe in an apartment, it's not safe in a house. They need to be with other animals.”