During the encounter, the Waller County sheriff’s deputy can be heard yelling at a man believed to be the tiger’s caretaker. No shots were fired during the encounter.
GRAPHIC LANGUAGE WARNING:
Texas is one of the most lenient states when it comes to exotic animal ownership laws. Possession and regulation of these animals are controlled by the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife.
Texans wanting to own a tiger or other large cat must qualify for a permit. To qualify, prospective owners must prove they can properly cage and provide for the tiger as a pet.
Estimates on how many tigers live in Texas range from 2,000 to 5,000. According to the World Wildlife Foundation, there are an estimated 3,900 tigers in the wild globally.
While many tigers in Texas live in zoos or animal sanctuaries, others are kept as pets in people’s backyards. The exact numbers are almost impossible to pin down.
Tiger staring at camera (iStock)
When officers arrived at the scene in Houston Sunday night, the tiger’s owner – who was out on bond on a murder charge – put the animal in a white Jeep Cherokee and drove off, Houston police Cmdr. Ron Borza said during a news conference Monday. The man got away after a brief pursuit.
“My main concern right now is focusing on finding him and finding the tiger because what I don’t want him to do is harm that tiger. We have plenty of places we can take that tiger and keep it safe and give it a home for the rest of its life,” Borza said.
Borza said residents should not have exotic animals as pets because they can be unpredictable.
“If that tiger was to get out and start doing some damage yesterday, I’m sure one of these citizens would have shot the tiger. We have plenty of neighbors out here with guns and we don’t want to see that. It’s not the animal’s fault. It’s the breeder’s fault. It’s unacceptable,” he said.
The man, whose name was not released by authorities, was charged with murder in November in neighboring Fort Bend County and was out on $250,000 bond. The man also apparently had two monkeys in the home, Borza said. Authorities plan to charge him with evading arrest, Borza said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.