A tiger caused a stir on a Texas street when neighbors noticed the wild animal walking through yards and on the street. It happened along Ivy Wall Drive in Houston on May 9.
Pictures and videos from the scene spread widely on social media. One image, which showed a man standing over the tiger, suggested the tiger was a pet. Officials said the tiger didn’t hurt anyone.
The man seen in the footage with the tiger has been identified as Victor Hugo Cuevas. He has been arrested for felony evading arrest. His attorney has insisted Cuevas is not the owner of the tiger.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Tiger Was Wearing a Collar & Walking Around the Yards
Videos from the scene show the tiger roaming through a yard and crossing the street on Ivy Wall Drive. The tiger was wearing a collar around its neck, the Houston Chronicle reported.
He alerted other neighbors by posting on a community blog and urged others to stay inside. Ramos described the neighborhood as a family-oriented community with a lot of children nearby. Ramos also told KPRC-TV that when he called 911, the dispatcher asked him who they should send to the scene.
The clips include footage of a man standing near the tiger and pointing a gun at it. KHOU-TV reported the man was a Waller County sheriff’s deputy. He was off-duty at the time. In the footage, he’s heard loudly telling someone to get back inside their house.
But according to KPRC-TV, another man yelled out at the deputy not to fire the weapon. The second man, whose name has not yet been released, said the tiger belonged to him.
The Man Who Claimed He Owned the Tiger Raced Away With the Animal Before Police Could Arrive
The man who claimed to own the tiger initially took the animal back inside the house. A neighbor told KPRC-TV the man “leaned down and kissed the tiger” before leading the big cat inside by the collar.
But a short time later, the man came back outside and put the tiger in an SUV. The off-duty deputy who pulled his gun on the tiger told KPRC-TV he tried to keep the man there while they waited for police to arrive. But the deputy said the man “cut through the neighbor’s yard” to avoid Houston Police. The deputy said there was a short chase but the man escaped.
As of May 10, it was unclear where the tiger had been taken, KHOU-TV reported.
KHOU-TV spoke with the owner of the house. It turned out the man who claimed to own the tiger was renting the property. The homeowner said the man never revealed he had any animals and did not pay a pet deposit.
Exotic Animals Are Not Allowed Within Houston City Limits But They Are Permitted in Harris County
The term ‘wild animal’ shall mean any mammal, amphibian, reptile or fowl of a species that is wild by nature and that, because of its size, vicious nature or other characteristics, is dangerous to human beings. Wild animals shall include, but not be limited to, lions, tigers, leopards, panthers, wild cat-domestic cat hybrids up to the third generation, bears, wolves, wolf-dog hybrids, cougars, coyotes, coyote-dog hybrids, raccoons, skunks (whether deodorized or not), apes, gorillas, monkeys of a species whose average adult weight is 20 pounds or more, foxes, elephants, rhinoceroses, alligators, crocodiles, caymans, fowl larger than a macaw, all forms of venomous reptiles and any snake that will grow to a length greater than eight feet. The term shall also include any animal listed as an ‘endangered species’ under the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, or any fowl protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The term wild animal shall not include gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice and domesticated rabbits.
But the rules are different in the greater Harris County, where Houston is located. Exotic animals are allowed as long as the owner has the proper permits. According to Harris County Public Health, owners must have liability insurance of at least $100,000. The animals must also be registered with the local animal control office or sheriff’s department.
Exotic animals are not allowed within 1,000 feet of a school or child care facility. They also can’t live within 1,000 feet of another residence.