MURCHISON, Texas—Yesterday officials from BARC (the City of Houston’s Animal Shelter and Adoptions Center) found an abandoned tiger in a small cage inside of an abandoned house in Houston. He was transported this morning to the world renowned 1,400-acre Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas, joining more than 800 resident animals including two tigers – Charlie, rescued from a breeder in 2016, and Alex, a former pet who arrived in 2014. He will undergo a thorough medical examination and be placed in quarantine for a minimum of two weeks. He will receive proper diet, veterinary care and the respect and dignity that he deserves. His permanent placement is pending possible court action. The ranch has a five-acre, naturally wooded habitat complex that emulates a native environment and that will be the tiger’s new home pending a decision about permanent custody.
The discovery of this tiger who had been in private hands is the most recent exotic animal incident that has put a community and first responders at risk and uncovered wild animals living in appalling, confined conditions. Among such horrific incidents in Texas: in 2018 a two-year-old child in Edinburg was severely injured by a snow macaque kept as someone’s pet. In 2016, the Conroe Police Department received a report of a tiger roaming a residential neighborhood after an escape from someone’s backyard. In 2001 in Lee County, a three-year-old boy was killed by a relative’s pet tiger. In Channelview, a four-year-old boy had his arm torn off by a 400 pound tiger in 2000.
Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said, “Texas lawmakers must follow the lead of countless states that have recently strengthened their laws prohibiting the private possession of dangerous wild animals. The time is now to pass meaningful legislation on the state and federal level. Keeping wild and exotic animals in private hands threatens public health and safety as well as animal welfare. Wild animals can cause death, inflict serious injury, and spread diseases. They are not pets and deserve better.
The Humane Society of the United States is grateful to BARC, HPD and the City of Houston for their quick and compassionate response and we are relieved that this tiger is now in safe hands in sanctuary at Black Beauty. We hope the people who subjected the tiger to this situation will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
In Texas, Senator Joan Huffman and Representative Eddie Lucio III have introduced SB 641/HB 1268 this legislative session, which prohibits the private ownership of big cats, bears, great apes, hyenas, macaques and baboons and contains reasonable exemptions, such as for wildlife sanctuaries and breeders, dealers and exhibitors licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture who meet specific criteria.
At the federal level, the Big Cat Public Safety Act is expected to be reintroduced in the 116th Congress. It will create a national framework for regulating the private possession of dangerous wild animals as well as prohibit public contact with certain species. The bill will address the thousands of animals being kept as pets or in grossly substandard conditions at unaccredited zoos, and end future ownership of big cats by unqualified individuals. It would also allow for a series of exemptions for individuals meeting specific requirements.
- Exotic animals are readily available to anyone who wants to buy or own one.
- An estimated 5,000-7,000 tigers live in captivity in the U.S.
- There is no uniform regulation regarding the private possession of big cats or other dangerous wild animals in the U.S. Thousands of these animals are being kept as pets or in unaccredited zoos.
- Thirty-five states have already passed meaningful laws regarding the private possession of dangerous wild animals.
- The Big Cat Public Safety Act will create a national framework for the keeping of dangerous wild animals in private possession, and prohibits public contact with certain species. The bill ends future ownership of big cats by unqualified individuals and allows for a series of exemptions for individuals meeting specific requirements.
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