SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — India the tiger, known for roaming around a neighborhood in Houston earlier this month, has been released into his own large habitat at a Texas animal sanctuary.
India was on the loose for almost a week before being captured on May 15 and arrived at Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas, on the same day. Sanctuary officials said he was kept in a temporary enclosure while he adjusted to his new home and was moved into a naturally-wooded half-acre habitat on Saturday.
“India is a confident boy, and in his large space he is relishing in his freedom, and acting like the curious, lively young tiger he is,” Noelle Almrud, senior director of Black Beauty Ranch said. “He already found a large log that is clearly his favorite, and enjoys stretching, scratching and marking his scent. He bounces around the habitat exploring all of the new smells and stalking his toys in the thick tall grass, illustrating his wild instincts. He is having a great time in his pool, particularly batting at the waterspout, and spending time exploring the hills, platforms and other enrichment– including a big red ball he ambushes as he leaps from behind bushes to try to get it. He watches his new neighbors curiously – tigers and a black bear from afar in their own habitats. He continues to thrive and is eating well.”
The news that a tiger was on the loose caused a stir across the state, partially fueled by reports that the alleged owner, Victor Hugo Cuevas, 28, fled police claiming he was not the technical owner of the big cat.
“You saw the video where he’s familiar with the tiger and knows how to handle a tiger but that doesn’t mean the tiger is his,” Cuevas’ attorney, Michael Elliott said before after Cuevas was arrested and India was found.
Notably, Carole Baskin of “Tiger King” fame pushed the story to national prominence by offering a reward to anyone who assisted in finding the tiger.
“All across the U.S., tigers, lions and other big cats languish in basements, garages and tiny outdoor cages, straddling the boundary between wild animal and family pet, their freedom squelched and their biological needs unmet. In unaccredited breeding facilities, poorly run roadside zoos, traveling zoos, pseudo-sanctuaries and private menageries, in conditions ranging from barely adequate to squalid, tigers produce babies for private sale, cub petting operations and other businesses that exploit them,” Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States said. “Deluded buyers treat baby tigers like domestic cats, but once those tigers hit maturity, they become extremely dangerous — in short order, the cute, cuddly oversized kitten becomes a massive, unpredictable predator. And that’s when the fates of tigers like India typically take a dramatic turn for the worse. When their natural predatory instincts kick in, they lose their status as beloved family “pet” and are suddenly locked up and often kept in isolation in dramatically inadequate enclosures where they cannot exercise any natural behaviors. Fortunately, this will not be India’s fate.”