Tigers on the Loose in Texas: 3 Times Tigers Escaped in the Lone Star State

Written by Abdulmumin Akinde
Published: January 19, 2023
Share on:

Advertisement


Imagine strolling through your street on a breezy evening and suddenly coming face to face with a tiger. Must be scary, right? Interestingly, encounters with loose tigers like this are fairly common in Texas. It might sound incredible, but the population of tigers in Texas is relatively high. Worldwide, there are about 4,500 tigers in the wild. In contrast, the total number of tigers in Texas ranges from 2,000 to 5,000, including the ones kept as pets. With such large figures, it’s only a matter of time before people find tigers on the loose in Texas. 

Times Tigers Were Found Loose on the Streets of Texas

People sometimes get careless with their pets and forget to lock them in. In turn, the pets are happy to explore their newfound freedom anytime they can get out. But what happens when the pet in question is a 600-pound exotic cat? Although very rare, a few people keep tigers as pets. Wild animals like this don’t belong in anyone’s home or on the street, but there have been instances of tigers going loose in various places, including Texas. This post details some incidents of tigers going loose on the streets.

Tiger Cubs

Although very rare, a few people keep tigers as pets.

6,138 People Couldn't Ace This Quiz

Think You Can?

©Igor Anfinogentov/Shutterstock.com

Houston (May 2021)

Residents of a Houston neighborhood were terrified to find a tiger wandering across the streets in May 2021. The stray cat was a 175-pound Bengal tiger identified as “India.” 

The young tiger was only nine months old and had escaped from the home of a man who kept it as a pet. The cat had been roaming the streets for about a week before appropriate authorities recovered it. The exotic animal allegedly belonged to 26-year-old Victor Cuevas, who kept it in his home. It had climbed over the fence and escaped its owner’s property. 

Pictures and videos of the tiger on the street first surfaced on the social media platform Next Door. One of the most spectacular videos of the tiger was its encounter with a resident of the Houston suburb. In the video, Wes Manion, who was the deputy sheriff of Waller Counter, was seen approaching the animal with a gun. As he moved closer to the animal, the owner could be seen trying to get him to back away. 

Manion affirmed in a later interview that the tiger followed him but didn’t act aggressively. So he didn’t really plan to kill it. A few minutes after, police sirens could be heard as the officers approached. The owner, probably scared of legal actions, loaded up his pet into his white Cherokee Jeep and fled the scene. 

Was the Animal Recovered?

Fortunately, this truck driver could not run away from the long arms of the law. His wife, already tired of the saga, reported the whereabouts of the terror cat to the Houston police department a few days after. India was safely recovered and put in the city’s animal sanctuary. The outcome was safer and better for the tiger, who would have been in danger if left on the loose in the streets of Texas.

The police were later able to identify and arrest Victor. The offender insisted that he wasn’t the owner of the cat and that he was just its caretaker. A witness reported seeing a capuchin monkey on Victor’s property. Apparently, he didn’t raise any alarm because he thought the capuchin could be easily domesticated.

Fortunately, the nine-month-old tiger was still a playful cub. An adult tiger loose on the street for that long would have proven deadly. Victor Cuevas was charged to court with the felony of evading arrest.

Lone Tiger in San Antonio (February 2021)

A Bengal tiger in Bannerghatta National park in Bangalore

Can you imagine coming home to meet a live tiger on your property?

©Muhammad Mahdi Karim, GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Can you imagine coming home to meet a live tiger on your property? The Animal Care Services in San Antonio got a disturbing call from a rather distressed woman in February 2021. She had just gotten the shock of her life after seeing a tiger on the loose in her yard in Texas. This was somewhere around Pearsall Park in southwest San Antonio. The Animal Care Services alerted police officers, who treated the case as an emergency. However, the officers did not reach the location quickly enough. The tiger had moved elsewhere by the time they arrived. 

Thankfully, they could locate the tiger with the help of trained animal care professionals. The tiger was traced to the home of an unidentified man. The house owner claimed that the tiger belonged to his friend. He confessed that he had borrowed the big cat to show it off to his family, but it escaped through the backyard fence. 

Apparently, the real owner owned more than one tiger. It is unclear whether he was legally authorized to have multiple tiger pets. 

Lone Female Tiger in Conroe (April 2016)

Siberian tiger with its tongue out

A teenager in Houston came across a tiger with his girlfriend. Initially going into attack mode, however, it ran towards Gessner and surprisingly started to lick his face. 

©Thorsten Spoerlein/Shutterstock.com

In Northern Houston, a bold teenager had a close encounter with a lone tiger in April 2016. Jonathan Gessner was with his girlfriend, Erin Poole, when they encountered the tiger. Nineteen-year-old Jonathan explained that he moved toward the tiger even though he was scared. The animal instinctively got into an attack mode, initially wary of the advancing unfamiliar face. However, it ran towards Gessner and surprisingly started to lick his face. 

Gessner definitely did not expect that reaction. The young tiger probably concluded that he posed no threat and looked friendly enough. The tiger’s friendly demeanor could also be explained by its age. Tigers are known to be friendly when they’re still pups. 

The female tiger on the loose had a collar and a leash on when the Texas police came to retrieve it. They attempted to trace the tiger’s origin and discovered that it had been rescued from flooding in its natural habitat in Harris County. Hopefully, the farm it escaped from will tighten its security measures to avoid similar occurrences in the future.

The teenagers were fortunate that the animal was accustomed to being around humans. Their story might have turned out to be a real tragedy if the tiger had been wild.

Conclusion

While it is legal to own tigers in Texas, there are many illegal tiger owners. This suggests that many of these tigers are not being kept under the right conditions. As a result, there have been instances of tigers escaping and being found on the loose. Many pet tigers are not being cared for properly, with inadequate living spaces and nutrition. Additionally, many dead tigers have been found with gunshot wounds. It is important to note that these big cats, as predators, can pose a danger to humans if not properly cared for. Generally, It is not recommended to keep tigers as pets, especially in residential areas, as they are destructive and naturally meant for the wild.

Up Next 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © mgnovenia/Shutterstock.com


Share on:
About the Author

Abdulmumin is a pharmacist and a top-rated content writer who can pretty much write on anything that can be researched on the internet. However, he particularly enjoys writing about animals, nature, and health. He loves animals, especially horses, and would love to have one someday.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the tiger population in Texas?

It might sound incredible, but the population of tigers in Texas is relatively high. Worldwide, there are about 4,500 tigers in the wild. In contrast, the total number of tigers in Texas ranges from 2,000 to 5,000, including the ones kept as pets.

Is it legal to own a tiger in Texas?

While it is legal to own tigers in Texas, there are many illegal tiger owners. This suggests that many of these tigers are not being kept under the right conditions. As a result, there have been instances of tigers escaping and being found on the loose.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.