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KUALA LUMPUR, May 11 — A Bengal pet tiger unleashed terror on a Houston neighbourhood after escaping from its owner’s home.
The large cat can be seen prowling around the streets of a Texas suburb in a Twitter clip that has been viewed three million times at the time of writing.
According to Fox 59, the incident took place on Sunday at 8pm and the collar on the cat led many to believe it was kept as a pet.
Police said an armed off-duty Waller Counter sheriff’s deputy came face-to-face with the tiger.
The deputy can be seen shouting at the tiger’s owner to get the cat back inside.
Houston police commander Ron Borza said during a news conference that the man allegedly put the tiger in a white Jeep Cherokee and drove off when officers arrived.
On Monday, when the police were trying to locate the tiger and its owner, Borza said the main concern was ensuring the animal wasn’t harmed.
“We have plenty of places we can take that tiger and keep it safe and give it a home for the rest of its life,” said Borza.
He added that residents should not have such animals in their homes as they can be unpredictable.
“If that tiger was to get out and start doing some damage yesterday, I’m sure one of these citizens would have shot the tiger.
“We have plenty of neighbours out here with guns, and we don’t want to see that.
“It’s not the animal’s fault. It’s the breeder’s fault. It’s unacceptable,” Borza said.
The man has been identified as 26-year-old Victor Hugo Cuevas, a Texas resident free on bond from a murder charge but was taken into custody after he was charged with felony evading arrest during the tiger incident on Sunday.
ABC News reported today that the police believe Cuevas owns the tiger but his attorney questioned the accuracy of that belief.
Cuevas’ attorney Michael W. Elliot doesn’t think Cuevas was the tiger’s owner or that he was taking care of the large cat, adding that it was unclear to him if the man in the video was his client.
“People are making a lot of assumptions in this particular case.
“Maybe he might be the hero out there who caught the tiger that was in the neighbourhood,” Elliott said.
Cuevas was charged with murder in 2017 after a man was fatally shot outside a restaurant in nearby Fort Bend County and was out on bond.
Commenting on his client’s former charges, Elliot maintains that the shooting was self-defence and Cuevas is innocent.
Cuevas reportedly has two monkeys in his home, which isn’t illegal if the animal weighs below 13.5 kilogrammes.
Tigers, however, are not allowed within Houston city limits unless the handler, such as a zoo, is licensed to have exotic animals.
The state of Texas has no law that forbids private ownerships of tigers and other exotic animals.
In the US, up to 5,000 tigers are believed to be in captivity and the issue came to light in the popular 2020 Netflix crime documentary miniseries Tiger King.