A tiger was seen wandering around a Houston neighborhood last week heading to an animal sanctuary on Sunday after police released a video of the captured animal feeding from the bottle and petting it.
Police Chief Ron Burza said the nine-month-old tiger, named India, appeared to be in good health. On Monday, India was seen wandering about a neighborhood in western Houston. An off-duty deputy nearly shot him before one of them took the 175-pound cub and departed.
The citywide search concluded on Saturday when a friend of the owners informed BARC, the city’s animal sanctuary, of his whereabouts in India. Burza said that Victor and Georgiana Cuevas, a couple he described as the owners of India, handed the tiger over to the police.
Borza said the young tiger was indeed “extremely strong. If he wants to beat you, he can do it right away.”
“In no case should you have the shape or form of an animal like this in your home,” said Borza. “This fully grown animal can reach 600 pounds. It still has claws and can do a lot of damage if he decides to. Fortunately for us, it’s very tame.”
Burza said India will be relocating to Cleveland Amore Black Beauty Ranch, which is an animal sanctuary outside of Dallas. Borza described it as a “feeling happy” story.
The story is not without intrigue. Police still do not know exactly where India has been since the first sighting last week. Owner Victorio Cuevas was arrested on Monday and charged with evading arrest, and charged with desertion after the officers responded to a plea about a dangerous animal.
Cuevas had already been on bail for premeditated murder in a fatal 2017 shooting incident, his lawyer said Cuevas had confirmed that the shooting was in self-defense. Attorney Michael W. Elliott said Cuevas also does not recognize ownership of India. Tigers are prohibited by city ordinance unless a wizard, such as a zoo, is licensed to own exotic animals.
“Victor was not the primary owner of India and India was not with him most of the time,” Elliott told The Associated Press. “Victor was nonetheless often co-sponsoring India.”
Elliott added that he does not believe that technically who owns India makes any difference because there is no “birth certificate or address.”
Borza said no charges have been filed and the investigation is continuing. He stressed that a happy ending will be provided to India, where he is living his life in sanctuary with other animals.
“I think people are tired of running the news every night and it’s all bleak,” he said. “This thing turned out really well. But I also want people to know that we never locked anything down with HPD. We are still chasing killers and thieves.”