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Tiger briefly on the loose in Texas suburb, viral video shows

·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Sanjeev Gupta/EPA</span>
Photograph: Sanjeev Gupta/EPA

A tiger was briefly on the loose in a Houston suburb on Sunday, terrifying residents before its owner grabbed it and fled in a car.

A 54-second video posted on social media showed the Bengal tiger roaming freely in front of houses in the Energy Corridor, 18 miles west of downtown Houston.

“Our Animal Cruelty Unit, along with [Barc, an animal shelter] are currently investigating the incident in which a tiger was seen at 1103 Ivy Wall Drive about 8pm on Sunday, Houston police said on Twitter.

“The male owner was seen escorting the tiger to the residence then putting it into his vehicle.”

According to the Houston Chronicle, an armed neighbor approach the tiger and yelled at its apparent caretaker: “Get the fuck back inside. Fuck you and your fucking tiger.”

A spokesman for Houston police told news outlets the owner fled in a white Jeep Cherokee and police lost sight of the vehicle. A spokesman later said the owner had been identified and the city’s major offenders division was looking for him.

Wes Manion, a Waller county sheriff’s deputy, said he had approached the animal.

“It did stalk me across the road but it did not look super aggressive,” he said. “The last thing I wanted to do was shoot that tiger.”

Tigers are not permitted as pets within Houston city limits unless owned by a handler licensed to keep exotic animals.

But Texas is estimated to have the largest tiger population outside India. Many of between 2,000 and 5,000 tigers in the state live in backyards and are unregistered.

A neighbor told ABC13 he had seen a capuchin monkey at the house from which the tiger emerged on Sunday.

“I figured, ‘OK, this is a small animal. It could be domesticated,” said Jose Ramos. “But I never thought they would hold a tiger in their house.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) blamed lax federal and state laws.

“This close call shows why every American should support the Big Cat Public Safety Act: until law enforcement cracks down on people who breed big cats, keep them in shoddy backyard cages, and sell photo ops with them, a loose tiger could be around any corner – and injuries and deaths could easily follow,” said Peta’s Brittany Peet.

“Peta urges Texas authorities to crack down on the state’s underground big-cat trade, track down this tiger, and get this animal into an accredited sanctuary,” Peet added.

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