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Wandering tiger custody awarded to city of Conroe

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas – The hearing held at Conroe Municipal Court to establish ownership of the tiger that was found wandering the nearby streets last Thursday ended with the judge ruling that the tiger was abandoned by the owner and the City of Conroe took over ownership at that time.

Temporary custody was granted to Conroe with the understanding in place that it will be transferred to one of the capable agencies provided by the city.

The tiger will be moved to an animal sanctuary sometime late tonight of early Wednesday morning. Conroe police plan to move the tiger in private for everyone's safety.

The judge said the owner of the tiger put the city in danger and was not taking proper care of the animal -- on top of not possessing proper documentation of the exotic animal.

Lt. Dory McGinnis with the Conroe Police Department said it’s unclear if the tiger’s owner will face charges.

He was not allowed to keep a dangerous animal in Conroe and could face consequences from state and even federal agencies.

Cody Tibbits went to pick up his tiger at the Conroe Animal Shelter on Monday, but he didn't leave with Nala, the female tiger. 

Tibbits had the tiger for a month. He said it was a rescue tiger. If Tibbits ever gets Nala back he hopes to give her away to a place that can take better care of her.

The Conroe Police Department said a judge has to authorize the seizure of the tiger in order for Tibbits to get her back.

Conroe police captured the tiger after multiple reports of seeing the animal in the Coral Grove Pass area near League Line Road and Longmire Road.

The tiger was wearing a collar with a leash attached.

Multiple people had encounters with Nala, some even saying she ran up to them and started licking their face.

Jonathan Gessner, 19, said the big cat was crouching in a menacing way, but what happened next blew his mind.

She runs up to me, jumped on me and put her paws on my shoulders and just starts licking my face like a dog. I thought it was pretty cool," Gessner said.

As sweet as she was, when Conroe Police Department took Nala into custody, they said it's dangerous to have these animals in city limits, and they anticipated ticketing the owners, but were having difficulty pinning down who the owner was at the time.

A young female tiger has been found roaming wild in Conroe... we will have the very latest on the capture of this beautiful animal at 4:00 on #KPRC2.

Posted by KPRC2 Bill Spencer on Thursday, April 21, 2016