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But days after the bizarre sighting, authorities and Houstonians aren’t sure exactly where the big cat is.
Here’s what we know about the tiger, and what can happen after it’s found.
The 9-month-old male tiger was last seen in public on Sunday. Resident Jose Antonio Ramos discovered the carnivore on his lawn.
“I had to pinch myself,” he said. “Was that real?”
Shortly afterwards, a man came from a nearby house, sat on the tiger and grabbed it, according to a cell phone video from a witness that was made available to CNN subsidiary KTRK.
When the police arrived, 26-year-old Victor Hugo Cuevas put the tiger in a white SUV and drove off, said police commander Ron Borza.
Cuevas was actually in custody and was charged with the murder of a man in 2017. Cuevas’ attorney Michael Elliott said the tiger was a 9 month old man named India, but Cuevas is not India’s owner.
Houston police said Cuevas was arrested after he escaped, but “the tiger’s whereabouts are not yet known”.
What do we know about the investigation?
According to Fort Bend County prison records, Cuevas was accused of escaping arrest / detention using a vehicle.
On Wednesday afternoon he said goodbye and appeared at a press conference next to his lawyer.
Elliott said they tried to help find the Tiger, but he wouldn’t say where his client – who was last seen with India – drove the Tiger in the SUV Sunday night.
The state is trying to revoke Cuevas’ loan for murder and a hearing is scheduled for Friday.
The Houston Police did not release many details about the investigation. Important updates will be made on their Twitter account.
It appears that the investigation is focused solely on the Houston area as several county and state agencies say they are not involved. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department told CNN that they are not part of the tiger investigation.
Owning a tiger is a violation of Houston law, but it is legal under Texas state law with certain restrictions.
Where does the tiger go when it is found?
BARC – Houston’s Animal Shelter and Adoption Facility – said animal control officers are assisting the Houston Police with the investigation.
According to the city’s rules, it is illegal to keep wild animals that are dangerous to humans in facilities other than an accredited zoo or shelter.
“If such animals are found in Houston, animal control officials will confiscate the animals and move them to a safe location – either BARC, another animal shelter, or a local wildlife facility – to protect the public’s safety and animal health,” a spokeswoman said the city, Lara Cottingham, in a written statement.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told CNN it is consulting with the Houston police force and offering expert advice to ensure that they do not violate Endangered Species Act while detaining the tiger.
At least one sanctuary offered to take India after it was found. The Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch – an arm of the Humane Society – in Murchison, Texas, told CNN that it would be welcoming the big cat.
How is the mood in Houston?
For the most part, Houstonians aren’t nervous about the missing tiger.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a good thing for many people,” said Brock Silverstein, owner of the Pecan Creek Grille in West Houston – not far from the neighborhood where the tiger was spotted.
“I’m in contact with customers all the time. It really wasn’t even a topic of conversation.”
Since no one has seen the tiger prowling in public in at least three days, Silverstein said he doesn’t think this is now a threat to the community.
“It’s amazing nobody saw it, is it? Maybe something happened to it,” he said.
Why is it a bad idea to have a pet tiger?
“Tigers are hardwired to roam hundreds of square miles, so there is no single cage that will hold them,” said Carole Baskin, founder of Big Cat Rescue and star of Netflix’s “Tiger King” series.
“The only reason people keep tigers as pets is to try to show themselves to others.”
Baskin said those found in a Houston neighborhood near the tiger on Sunday were in “extreme danger”.
She praised an off duty deputy who lived nearby and pointed his gun at the tiger but did not shoot.
“I was so impressed with the deputy who showed up because he did exactly the right thing. And he showed amazing reluctance to fail to shoot this tiger,” said Baskin.
“He made eye contact. He backed away slowly. A tiger, when you look down, when you turn around, when that neighbor has run back to his door, it triggers their instinct to kill.”