When a Tiger named India had Houston on tenterhooks

City police capture the big cat after a weeklong search

Texas law allows tigers to be held as pets, but the owner needs to possess a certificate of registration (representative image)

India, the nine-month-old Bengal tiger that has been making headlines with his little adventure strolling on the streets of a Houston, Texas neighbourhood, has been captured after a weeklong search.

The big cat is safe, and being held at BARC, the animal shelter of the City of Houston. He is likely to be taken to animal sanctuary Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, also located in Texas, said media reports.

“We are happy to report that the missing tiger seen in a Houston neighborhood last week has been found and appears to be unharmed,” tweeted Houston Police from its official handle.

Over the week, India had built a tiny fandom on social media. After his capture, tweets poured in, expressing relief and demanding action against his owner.


Owner held

Victor Hugo Cuveas, the 26-year-old identified as the owner of the tiger, was taken into custody earlier.  While Texas law allows tigers to be held as pets, the owner needs to possess a certificate of registration.

Cuveas’ attorney was quoted by agency reports as saying that he doesn’t, in fact, own India. “I am not sure it makes any difference who owns India as he does not have a birth certificate or title,” he reportedly said.

Meanwhile, the city police appeared relieved that India was found, and safe. “We got him and he is healthy,” said Houston Police Department (HPD) Major Offenders Commander Ron Borza.

As Borza spoke in a video clip, Cuveas’ wife Giorgiana, who had finally turned over the animal to the police, was seen feeding the tiger with a baby bottle.

Also in Cuevas’ possession are two monkeys — these, however, are ‘legal’, as they are under 30 pounds.

Capable of inflicting damage

“In no way shape or form, should one have an animal like that in any household,” said Borza. “That animal is only nine months old and already wrights 175 pounds. Full-grown that animal can get to 600 pounds. It still has its claws and could do a lot of damage if it decided to. Luckily for us, he is very tame and he will be going to a sanctuary tomorrow,” added.

On Monday morning, India was spotted at the front yard of a house in west Houston. The photos were widely shared on social media, raising fascination and fear in equal degrees.

A panicked resident informed the police that the Bengal tiger sported a collar around its neck and was staring at the people, said media reports. That the animal appeared tame brought relief to residents and authorities alike.