Tiger left in deserted Houston house is now at home at Black Beauty Ranch; Owner arrested and charged with animal cruelty

By on May 17, 2019 with 7 Comments

The strange saga of a neglected tiger discovered last February in the garage of a deserted Houston home reached a happily-ever-after conclusion this week. Our Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas, the tiger’s home since his rescue, has been given full legal custody of the animal. And the woman who owned the tiger was arrested and charged with animal cruelty for failing to provide him with sufficient water, food, care and shelter.

Although the tiger, born in captivity, will never know what it is like to live in the wild, he will spend the rest of his days living peacefully at the ranch, with the grass under his feet and the sun on his belly, as tigers in the wild would. He will never again know the horror that his life was before authorities came upon him on that fateful day after a 311 caller discovered the 350-pound tiger sitting in a cage on rotting meat, mold, maggots and his own waste. The animal’s legs were scalded by urine. It was a terrible thing for an animal so regal and magnificent to be living in such a degraded state of neglect and misery.

After his transfer to the Black Beauty Ranch, life took a dramatic turn for this as yet unnamed fellow (the Fund for Animals is running a contest to name him). Noelle Almrud, the director of the ranch, told me that since his arrival, the two-year-old has settled in nicely and is relaxed and calm. He’s sharing the ranch’s tiger habitat with Alex, a tiger rescued along with about a dozen other wild animals after their owner abandoned them, without food or water. The two tigers can see each other, although they live in separate enclosures (tigers generally prefer a solitary life).

The new resident’s favorite activity is to lay in the sun on his back with his feet in the air, Noelle relates, and he sometimes climbs up on a wooden platform to survey his surroundings.

While this tiger’s life is now as stress-free as can be, there are many tigers — both captive and wild — who are not so lucky. On Endangered Species Day today, it is important to remember that tigers are endangered, with fewer than 4,000 remaining in the wild – down from approximately 100,000 a century ago. In fact, it is estimated that there are more tigers now living in captivity than there are in the wild. A big reason for this is the impunity with which this beautiful species has been trafficked, poached and hunted in the wild for trophies and traditional Asian medicine as well as the rampant breeding of captive tigers to supply circuses, roadside zoos, private menageries and the insatiable cub-petting industry.

At the ranch, the tiger has the grass under his feet and the sun on his belly, as tigers in the wild would. Photo by Mikkaela Scott/The HSUS

At the HSUS and Humane Society International, we’ve made it our mission to fight these threats to tigers and other big cats. We’ve exposed captive tiger breeding within the United States through our investigations of roadside zoos. We’ve pushed for laws to ban the use of wild animals, including tigers, in circuses and in other travelling shows. HSI has long fought to end the international trade in tiger parts. Last November, in response to the Chinese government’s decision to lift a 1993 ban on the sale of tiger bones and rhino horns for medicinal use, we filed a legal petition with the U.S. government seeking a ban on all imports of wildlife and their parts from China until that country amends its law to reinstate a complete ban on the sale of tiger and rhino parts. We have worked to prohibit the private ownership of big cats, and 35 states now have such laws (Texas is not one of them, alas).

At the federal level, we are pushing for the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which would ban the possession of big cat species like tigers and lions by individuals and prohibit their exploitation by poorly run roadside zoos that allow public contact with big cats.

Irresponsible owners who keep tigers locked up create a public safety problem, commit the worst sort of animal cruelty, and squander the resources of taxpayer-funded law enforcement agencies and organizations like ours that must step up to respond. It costs approximately $25,000 per year to care for a tiger — resources that would be better spent on efforts to protect tigers in the wild from the many threats they face.

There is no reason why anyone should be allowed to keep a tiger as a pet. Please ask your federal lawmakers to support the Big Cat Public Safety Act. Tigers are meant to live and breathe in the wild, not suffer needlessly in cages and homes where they were never meant to languish.

Animal Rescue and Care, Humane Society International, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Cindy Wines says:

    I agree. Shame on humans for doing this! We need to enforce the Big Cat Act. These are big cats and a lot of responsibility!! They need to be free and not born in captivity!

    • Yvonne Amery says:

      So wonderful that such caring people as yourselves have taken this beautiful tiger into safety. I have been so concerned about his fate ever since reading that he was abandoned and left to die in the filthy cage. Texas needs to join the other states and ban individual ownership of wild animals.

    • Angela Newsom says:

      They are endangered ……maybe they are safer in Cat Sanctuaries …with Humans on the Loose

  2. Monica Colgan says:

    This kind of behavior from humans is horrific. Thank you for helping these poor neglected animals.

  3. Jennifer Hardacre says:

    The words “Chinese traditional medicine” crop up depressingly often in reports of species decline. Rhinos are slaughtered because rhino horn is used in Chinese traditional medicine – even though it’s just hair and has no medicinal effect at all. Tigers are now endangered because their bones are used in Chinese traditional medicine – even though the bones have no proven medicinal value. Now, even donkeys all over the world are being stolen, shipped to China and slaughtered because their skins are used in – you guessed it – Chinese traditional medicine! It would be incredibly tough sledding to persuade a whole culture that such “medicines” are not only quackery but a real and present danger to many vulnerable animal populations. Magnificent work is being done by many humane agencies to end the cruel slaughter and consumption of dogs and cats in Asia. Perhaps similar efforts could be directed at Chinese traditional medicine, to end the misery and devastation it causes in the animal kingdom. One can hope!

  4. Arden Allen says:

    It grieves me but I must say that Tigers in sanctuaries and zoos may be their final fate on Planet Earth as the continuing growth of human population wipes out the few remaining natural habitats for large wild animals, not to speak of the slaughter for profit of animals in the wild. That along with the degradation of the atmosphere leading to global warming aids the destruction of wild habitats that cannot adapt to the climate change. And finally the plastics pollution that is poisoning and choking to death the many magnificent birds we see less of in the sky these days. Is it hopeless? Yes, because humans neither can adapt fast enough to stop the wreckage they make.

  5. Pamela kaczynski says:

    You rescued a camel last year. Just wondering how he was doing. His story left me uplifted knowing this poor soul finally has a good life because of black beauty ranch. Could you give me an update on him.?

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