HOUSTON—A woman who called Houston’s non-emergency dispatch line after discovering a tiger inside a cage at an abandoned home told the shocked dispatcher: “I’m not lying.”
Police say a group of people looking for a place to smoke marijuana happened across the tiger on Feb. 11. The woman told the dispatcher: “It’s pretty big.” Authorities say the animal weighed 350 pounds.
The Houston Chronicle obtained a recording of the call after animal rescue workers found the well-fed animal resting on a bed of hay inside a cage, on Monday.
The cage was secured by a nylon strap and screwdriver. Officials say it could easily open and the tiger could have gone on a “rampage.”
After the animal rescue worker volunteers arrived on the scene. Authorities nicknamed the tiger “Tyson” after the movie “The Hangover.”
Investigators have leads into who owned the tiger but say it may not be the person who owns the property.
The tiger was taken to an animal shelter, then it was transferred to an animal sanctuary in Texas on Tuesday, Feb. 12.
It’s legal to own a tiger in Texas if the owner has a wild game permit. But it is illegal to have a tiger in Houston.
— Feven Kay (@Feven_Kay) 12 februari 2019
More Tigers in U.S. Backyards Than in The Wild
Finding a “forever home” for a tiger is hard, Heidi Krahn, executive director of the Center for Animal Research & Education told KTRK.
“I tried to explain to people it’s a lot like having a child. If you have a child, you have insurance but these guys don’t have insurance,” she said.
Keeping a tiger as a pet is never a good idea, she said.
“They are basically a loaded gun pointed at anyone that encounters them,” she said. “They can be extremely dangerous.”
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the number of “backyard tigers” in the United States is greater than the total remaining wild tiger population (estimated at 3,500).
The WWF estimates the number of tigers in the United States is 5,000.
“Only six percent of the US captive tiger population resides in zoos and other facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums,” said a WWF report in 2014. “The rest are found in other private hands.”
The Epoch Times reporter Simon Veazey contributed to this report.