IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Pet tiger seen on the loose in Houston moved to sanctuary

The nine-month-old tiger was handed over by its owners after a search for the animal began earlier this month.
Image:; India the Tiger
India the tiger relaxes in his new home at Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas.Christi Gilbreth / HSUS

India the tiger has been relocated to a Texas animal sanctuary, departing from his domestic Houston area home for good, according the the Houston Police Department.

The nine-month-old tiger arrived at his new home, the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas, on May 15, and representatives for the ranch say that his transition has gone smoothly and that he has adjusted well to the new environment.

“India is becoming more and more confident, relaxed and playful every day. He is healthy, eating well, and very busy exploring every part of his large habitat and relishing in his freedom — acting like the curious, lively young tiger he is," said Noelle Armud, Senior Director of Black Beauty Ranch.

The tiger made headlines earlier this month when it was spotted roaming around a Houston neighborhood unattended, as reported by NBC News. The wildcat was missing for nearly a week before it was eventually found safely and turned over to the police.

In the initial siting, the tiger was caught on video by neighbors, seen wearing a collar and prowling around outside of a home when an off-duty sheriff's deputy encountered the wildcat. Before police had a chance to respond, the tiger was put into the back of a vehicle and driven away to an unknown location.

Ultimately, the hunt for the missing tiger came to a close when one if its owners, Gia Cuevas, surrendered the wildcat to Houston PD, and from there, the police transferred the animal to the BARC Houston Animal Shelter where police say the tiger appeared to be in good health.

A tiger rests on grass near a sidewalk in a neighborhood in Houston.Courtesy Mohammed Syed

Now, India the tiger has finally found his permanent home thanks to the cooperation of Cuevas with the Houston Police Department.

"He will be going to a sanctuary tomorrow, where hopefully he will live the rest of his life in a very safe environment," said Houston Police Commander, Ron Borza, in a press conference prior to the relocation to Black Beauty Ranch.

India's new habitat at the ranch is said to be about half an acre of land and includes a wooded area and a pool.

"He loves one particular large log that he enjoys stretching across, scratching and marking his scent on. He bounces around the habitat exploring all of the new smells and stalking his toys in the thick tall grass, illustrating his wild instincts," said Almrud. "He sleeps a lot, like most cats do, and is having a blast in his pool, particularly batting at the waterspout and jumping in and out of the water."

Black Beauty Ranch is run by the Humane Society, which has publicly supported the Big Cat Public Safety Act — pending legislation that would limit private ownership of such animals.

As previously reported by NBC News, tigers are not allowed in the city of Houston, but they are legal in the surrounding Harris County if properly registered under a strict set of rules and safety guidelines, including holding $100,000 in animal insurance and keeping the tiger secured at least 1,000 feet from another home, school or child care facility.

Texas law allows private ownership of tigers and other “dangerous wild animals,” but applicants must register with their local sheriff, file paperwork with the state and follow strict caging requirements.

There are no pending criminal charges at this time against Gia and her husband Victor Cuevas, according to the Houston Police Department. However earlier this month, Commander Borza confirmed that the investigation remains ongoing.

"We know he is in right place now because he is showing less and less interest in humans — our staff — which is how it should be," Almrud said. "He came from being someone’s pet, which is no life for a wild animal.”

Doha Madani and Alicia Victoria Lozano contributed.