Tiger found by pot smoker in abandoned Houston home taken to Texas ranch

HOUSTON – A male tiger found Monday at an abandoned southeast Houston home was transported to its new home Tuesday.

Employees showed up to the BARC shelter at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday and loaded the tiger, which was in his original cage, into another trailer and a veterinarian did a visual examination before they left.

The tiger was peaceful and calm waiting in its cage Tuesday morning and appeared to be in good shape.

BARC said word of the tiger's discovery spread and they received calls from across the country offering help to care for the big cat.

“We’re excited that we found an animal rescue center that’s going to come and take (the tiger) this morning and transfer (the tiger) to a location that has the facilities and the veterinarians who specialize in big cats that can take care of him,” said Lara Cottingham, with the City of Houston.

“It is not legal to own any kind of exotic wildlife in the City of Houston, including tigers. Unfortunately, sometimes people think it’s cool to have an exotic wild pet. It is really important that we try to discourage that from happening.

"Wild animals are not pets, they can’t be tamed, and they really need to be in a facility that has the resources and the specialists that can take care of them."

The tiger left for his new home around 10:45 a.m. Tuesday to make the trek to the 1,400-acre Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas, according to the Houston Humane Society.

The tiger will be able to get the proper care he needs to live out the rest of his days at the ranch.

The Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch already has two tigers among its 800 resident animals.

The Humane Society said the tiger will be quarantined for at least two weeks before being released into its new home, a 5-acre wooded habitat complex.

VIDEO: A tiger found in an abandoned house was transported to new home

Police said the caged tiger was found at a home in the 9400 block of East Avenue J.

An anonymous tipster reported seeing the animal about a week ago, according to BARC.

The tipster said they were at the house to smoke marijuana and thought they were hallucinating when they first saw the tiger, according to police.

The tiger was found in a "rinky-dink" cage in the garage, which was not locked, police said. The garage was secured with a screwdriver and a nylon strap, according to police.

"A pretty small cage inside basically a garage in a house that didn't look like it was in the best shape. So it was important that we get it out of that situation," Cottingham said.

BARC officers found the tiger Monday. They called Houston police, who were able to secure a warrant and remove the tiger.

The tiger was tranquilized in order to move it out of the house, officials said.

The abandoned house where a tiger was found on Feb. 11, 2019.

The tiger was taken to the BARC animal shelter at 3300 Carr St. after the discovery Monday night.

The Major Offenders Animal Cruelty Division is working with the District Attorney's office to investigate and determine who owned the property and the tiger. 

There is no word on what charges the owners could face.

The Houston Zoo said in a statement that it will not be able to take the tiger.

Here is a statement from the Zoo:

"The Houston Zoo is aware of the tiger found in southeast Houston today, Feb. 11; however, the Houston Zoo is not involved in this case, and is not receiving the tiger, as incorrectly reported.

"The Houston Zoo is home to two Malayan tigers, Berani and Satu, and does not have the capacity to receive additional tigers.

"Fewer than 3,500 tigers of all tiger subspecies remain in the wild today, according to the Tiger Conservation Campaign. Malayan tigers surviving on the Malay Peninsula are critically endangered with an estimated population of 300 remaining in the wild."

Louis Dorfman runs the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Boyd, Texas. It's located north of Forth Worth.

"It is cruel to keep it in a cage. I mean, it’s cruel to keep anything in a cage, much less an animal that wants to run and exercise," Dorfman said about the tiger found in the abandoned Houston property.

Dorfman rehabilitates abused and mistreated animals. Nala, the tiger found roaming the streets of Conroe in 2016, is living at his sanctuary.

"She’s a sweetheart. She's a lovely tiger," he said. "Very affectionate and loves to lay at my feet and have me scratch her tummy. But understand, that’s with me. That’s not to say she wouldn’t kill anybody else."

Dorfman said with the right connections and money, people are able to get their hands on exotic animals, such as tigers. He said most people shouldn’t own a tiger, whether it's permitted by their state or not. Dorfman said they require a special diet, at least an acre of space and a lifetime commitment.

"It is not an impulse buy or acquisition, even if you’re well-intentioned. You have the money. You have the space. You can build a proper facility ... it’s something you have to make a commitment to," he said.

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