TEXAS—In May 2021, the headline-making search for a missing pet tiger named India was underway in Houston. Once he was found by authorities, the nine-month-old, 134-pound cub was transported to his forever home at Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas. This month marks India’s one year anniversary at the 1,400-acre sanctuary, which is operated by the Humane Society of the United States. He is now 251 pounds and will turn two years old in August.
In his first year at the sanctuary, India has overcome obstacles that were a result of having been a pet. When he arrived, India was accustomed to close human interaction and did not want to be alone. The staff would do social visits sitting outside of his habitat for short periods of time throughout the day. As time went on, the interactions became fewer each day and eventually he started to adjust and become more independent.
Another challenge he faced was physical. After India’s first spurts of excitement running around and exploring his expansive new home, India’s care team could see that his back legs were tired and weak. India’s muscles did not properly develop because, as a pet in a house, he was unable to run at full speed or jump. Over time he was able to get stronger and run for longer intervals.
Noelle Almrud, senior director at Black Beauty Ranch, said: “Once India developed more confidence, independence and physical strength, his natural behaviors and wild instincts kicked in. He is thriving and happy, always busy stalking, hiding in the tall grass, pouncing on balls and boxes, and experiencing other enrichment activities. He also loves to climb and swim, or just take long naps under a tree. He is highly curious about his sanctuary neighbors, including Sammi the former circus bear. India likes to peek over the divider wall between them to see what’s going on. We are looking forward to watching India mature and continuing to enjoy his life here, where he will be properly cared for and never have to worry again.”
Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said: “We cannot have dangerous wild animals roaming neighborhoods or confined inside of a house. Forcing animals like India to be treated as a ‘pet’ is inhumane and a serious public safety risk—no matter how ‘cute’ or ‘tame’ the animal may seem. Big cats express natural, unpredictable behaviors that can occur at any moment. Thankfully, we can provide permanent sanctuary for India, but that is not going to stop the problem. 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.”