A tiger that was treated as a “pet” and missing for a week in Houston now has a safe home at an animal sanctuary in East Texas.
India, who was found safe Saturday night in Houston, arrived Sunday at Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, a sanctuary overseen by the Humane Society of the United States.
Noelle Almrud, senior director of Black Beauty Ranch, went to Houston to pick up the 9-month-old tiger.
“Houston authorities did a remarkable job over the past several days to locate India and to ensure the safety of the public and the animal,” Almrud said. “Black Beauty Ranch will provide safe sanctuary for him and give him a proper diet, enrichment, an expansive naturally wooded habitat where he can safely roam and will provide everything else he needs to be the healthy wild tiger he deserves to be.”
Almrud said India is settling in and once he’s done with a 30-day quarantine, he’ll be able to be closer to some of the sanctuary’s other tigers. The quarantine is used to make sure the tiger doesn’t have any diseases.
The search for India gained national attention as Houston law enforcement worked to find the exotic animal seen walking around residential Houston. Carole Baskin, famous from the the Netflix film “Tiger King” and CEO of the nonprofit animal sanctuary Big Cat Rescue in Florida, even offered a $5,000 award to the person who had India.
The nationwide spotlight helped get the message out that “tigers are not pets,” Almrud said.
“We really hope that people will help us care for India as well as the other animals we have at the sanctuary,” she said.
Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch has 800 animals and more than 40 different species, such as primates, sheep, goats, reptiles, tigers and bison.
Ranch officials believe India was raised as a pet, and upon visual inspection he looks fairly healthy, Almrud said.
Almrud explained owning a tiger is legal in Texas, but cities and counties can ban the practice or create regulations like requiring a permit.
“There’s no way to enforce this. We want stronger laws to be able to ban it across the state,” she said.
Almrud said the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch and other animal advocates support the proposed Big Cat Public Safety Act, which would ban owning tigers and other big cats as pets in the U.S.
“They’re wild animals. It’s not safe,” Almrud said. “These are dangerous apex predators that could cause serious harm to members of the public.”
This is not the first time in Texas that Black Beauty has taken in a tiger that was a victim of the exotic pet trade.
“This is the third tiger found this year and it’s only May,” she said. “We always encourage people to reach out to their government officials to say that they support the ban of owning dangerous wild animals.”
Almrud encouraged donating to the nonprofit sanctuary to help care for the animals. The organization’s website can be found at fundforanimals.org/blackbeauty.
“We’re relieved India is safe. We cannot have dangerous wild animals roaming neighborhoods or living in people’s homes,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “Forcing these animals to live under such conditions, confined and treated as a ‘pet’ is inhumane and a serious public safety risk — no matter how ‘cute’ or ‘tame’ the animal may seem. Big cats like India express natural, unpredictable behaviors that can occur at any moment. Situations like this are why we are working to pass federal legislation. The Big Cat Public Safety Act would prohibit keeping big cats as pets.”
Almrud hopes the ranch can get legal custody of India so he can live his life at Black Beauty Ranch.