Pet Tiger Seen Roaming in Houston Is Now in a Sanctuary

He already has a favorite log and loves the pool.

India relaxes at his new home at Black Beauty Ranch.
India relaxes at his new home at Black Beauty Ranch.

Noelle Almrud / The HSUS

India, the semi-famous tiger, has a new home in a Texas animal sanctuary.

Earlier this month, the big cat made headlines for wandering around a Houston suburb. The 9-month-old tiger escaped from his owner's home and had been on the loose for nearly a week, terrifying neighbors and people who happened to run into him.

An off-duty sheriff's deputy encountered the tiger and pointed his gun at him. But a man came out and pleaded with him not to shoot, according to residents. He took the tiger by the collar and lured him into a home.

"Really at no point did I want to shoot the tiger," the deputy, Wes Manion, told local TV station KPRC.

Eventually, one of its owners surrendered the cat to the Houston police department. He was transferred to the BARC Animal Shelter in Houston and now has found his permanent home at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas.

At first, India was in a temporary enclosure but now has transitioned into his permanent space, which includes a large wooded habitat where he can roam. He is thriving and eating well and is having a great time, according to his new caretakers.

“India is a confident boy, and in his large space he is relishing in his freedom, and acting like the curious, lively young tiger he is. He already found a large log that is clearly his favorite, and enjoys stretching, scratching and marking his scent," says Noelle Almrud, senior director of Black Beauty.

"He bounces around the habitat exploring all of the new smells and stalking his toys in the thick tall grass, illustrating his wild instincts. He is having a great time in his pool, particularly batting at the waterspout, and spending time exploring the hills, platforms and other enrichment– including a big red ball he ambushes as he leaps from behind bushes to try to get it. He watches his new neighbors curiously - tigers and a black bear from afar in their own habitats."

The 1,400-acre sanctuary, which is part of the Humane Society of the United States, is home to nearly 800 exotic and domestic animals. Many of the animals came from research laboratories, law enforcement seizures, and hoarding situations. Some previously lived in roadside zoos or came from the exotic pet trade.

Passing Legislation

India the tiger at Black Beauty Ranch
India in his wooded habitat at Black Beauty Ranch. The HSUS

Animal rescuers are quick to point out that this could easily have had an unhappy ending. No people or animals were hurt, but that's not often the case when big cats are kept as pets.

“All across the U.S., tigers, lions and other big cats languish in basements, garages and tiny outdoor cages, straddling the boundary between wild animal and family pet, their freedom squelched and their biological needs unmet. In unaccredited breeding facilities, poorly run roadside zoos, traveling zoos, pseudo-sanctuaries and private menageries, in conditions ranging from barely adequate to squalid, tigers produce babies for private sale, cub petting operations and other businesses that exploit them," Kitty Block, president and CEO of the HSUS said in her blog when India arrived at Black Beauty.

"Deluded buyers treat baby tigers like domestic cats, but once those tigers hit maturity, they become extremely dangerous — in short order, the cute, cuddly oversized kitten becomes a massive, unpredictable predator. And that’s when the fates of tigers like India typically take a dramatic turn for the worse. When their natural predatory instincts kick in, they lose their status as beloved family 'pet' and are suddenly locked up and often kept in isolation in dramatically inadequate enclosures where they cannot exercise any natural behaviors."

Activists are pushing to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 263 and S. 1210) which would ban most big cat ownership except by sanctuaries, universities, and zoos. It would also prohibit petting, playing with, feeding, and taking photos with cubs. The bill passed the House and is with the Senate for a vote.

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