A Bengal tiger that has been missing for a week in Houston — and which prompted hundreds of tips about his possible whereabouts — has been found safe.
“The tiger appears to be in very good health,” Houston Police Department Commander Ron Borza said at a news conference late Saturday.
The 9-month old, 175-pound beast, named “India,” was wearing a turquoise, bejeweled collar and being bottle fed in a video posted by the HPD, in which Borza and a woman identified as the wife of the tiger owner were seen petting and cuddling with the animal.
“Commander, it’s been a long week,” someone says to Borza in the clip.
“It really has been,” Borza laughed, “but we got him and he’s healthy.”
India was spotted out in a neighborhood on May 9 causing some tension with neighbors as he roamed and lounged on front yards.
By Saturday, a “concerned citizen” in contact with India’s owner’s wife, identified as Gia, contacted the local animal shelter, Borza said, and helped arranged for India to be turned over to authorities.
Borza explained he let Gia come along as India was taken to the shelter “because of the stress the tiger’s been through the last couple of weeks. He was obviously agitated . . . The animal likes attention.”
“It wasn’t found,” Borza added. “It was brought to us.”‘
“The tiger was passed around a little bit, but ultimately Gia knew where the tiger was at all times,” he said. “If it wasn’t with her, she knew where it was at.”
No charges have been filed, and cops don’t know how the alleged owner, Victor Hugo Cuevas, 26, came into possession of India, Borza said.
“That, we haven’t gotten into,” Borza said.
“In no way shape or form should you have an animal like that in your household,” he cautioned, noting they can reach 600 pounds fully grown. “It still had its claws, and he could do a lot of damage if he decided to. Luckily, he’s very tame.”
On Sunday, India is slated to go to Cleveland Armory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas, about three hours north of Houston.
“He’ll be going to a sanctuary tomorrow, where hopefully he’ll live the rest of his life in a very safe environment,” Borza said, adding, “this thing turned out really well.”
“I think the public thought it would be easy, to catch a tiger,” Borza mused. “But it wasn’t at all.”