Breaking: Texas tiger arrives at our animal sanctuary, Black Beauty Ranch

By on May 17, 2021 with 8 Comments

If you’ve been online at all in the past week, chances are you’ve seen the footage of an alarmed off-duty police officer pointing a gun at an approaching tiger in a sleepy residential neighborhood in Houston.

The tiger’s name is India and, after a mysterious disappearance and a week of dramatic plot twists, he is now safe and settling in at his comfortable new home — our Black Beauty Ranch, a sprawling sanctuary in Texas.

Thankfully, no humans or animals were hurt in this incident, and this police officer fortunately exercised restraint and did not shoot the tiger. But the outcome could have been tragic for both the tiger and Houstonians. Just ask one of the many people who have been maimed after a run-in with someone’s “pet” lion or tiger; or ask one of the unfortunate people who has lost a loved one to a fatal mauling. Whenever you scratch the surface of the tiger pet trade, you’ll find tremendous animal suffering.

Photo by Noelle Almrud India, who had been missing for nearly a week in Houston, was found by local police on Saturday.

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. 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. Houston authorities did a remarkable job in locating him and ensuring his safety, as well as that of the public. On Saturday, he was given over to authorities by the wife of the man seen whisking the tiger away from the police officer last week. India then spent a night at BARC Animal Shelter in Houston, and yesterday we transported him to Black Beauty Ranch, our sanctuary in Murchison, Texas.

Photo by Noelle Almrud India will join two other tigers, Loki and Elsa, rescued by Black Beauty Ranch. All are victims of the exotic pet trade.

There, India will enjoy a proper diet, enrichment and an expansive naturally wooded habitat where he can safely roam. Our colleagues at Black Beauty Ranch have gone to great lengths to create an environment that is as close as possible to what these animals would have in the wild.

This is not the first time in Texas that Black Beauty Ranch has taken in a tiger who was a victim of the exotic pet trade. In February 2019, it took in a tiger named Loki, who had been left caged in an abandoned house. Just three months ago, we took in Elsa, who was discovered outside during Houston’s deadly snow storm and who, like India, is approximately 9 months old.

It’s important to us that these three tigers get to live in our safe, caring place. But these are just the lucky animals out of so many unfortunate ones. Thousands of other big cats continue to suffer in dismal conditions. That’s why our organization and our colleagues at the Humane Society Legislative Fund are working so hard with members of Congress to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act. We’re also pushing hard to secure legislation in Texas, New York and other states whose laws on the keeping of private exotics are too lax, leading directly to the kind of situation that put India and Houston residents at serious risk.

The federal bill would stop the terrible cycle of abuse caused by people who buy tigers from unscrupulous breeders but who can’t come close to meeting the needs of these complex and powerful animals. For the sake of the thousands of tigers like India, Elsa and Loki who have not yet been rescued and who languish in squalor, I hope you’ll contact your representatives in Congress and urge them to support this bill.

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

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  1. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Tenemos que aprender a cuidar y respetar la vida de los animalitos no podemos permitir que se sigan abusando de ellos cuidemos la naturaleza y a los seres vivos que habitamos e n ella

  2. Princess Samantha Kennedy says:

    This young Tiger deserves happiness and love, to have room to roam around and to feel free. There is no shortage of cruelty in this world and so many animals suffer at the hands of cruel, incompassionate people. I am so glad to see that India has been saved.

  3. Ellen Kosmer says:

    I am concerned to see the footage on the TV news of this tiger in a smallish cage with a cement floor. I understand the need to quarantine the tiger for a period of time and to take care in introducing the cat to the other tigers. But I would hope that the quarantine is not taking place in the cell-like cage that appears in nightly news programs that show the captured cat. At present the conditions for this tiger do not seem humane.

    • Blog Editor says:

      Thank you for your concern. The angle you saw of India and his enclosure on the news doesn’t show the full size of this enclosure and the hammock, his large ball, water trough and other enrichment because we don’t allow cameras that close. He will be in this space for a week or two at most and then go to his large full ½ acre habitat, which is naturally wooded and has a pool, trees, grass, climbing platforms and plenty of enrichment. “Quarantine for 30 days” doesn’t mean he’ll be in the enclosure shown on TV; it means he’ll be away from other animals. India is getting lots of attention from his care staff to ensure he transitions properly and isn’t overwhelmed with too much space too quickly.

      • Ellen Kosmer says:

        Thank you for your reply. I’m so glad to hear that. I hope he will be able to relax and be happy in his new forever home

  4. Sara Vardanyan says:

    Humans will do anything under the sun to make a buck. Wildlife needs to be wild, not treated as “pets”. Anyone with an ounce of compassion could see that it’s extremely cruel to profit off of such majestic creatures.

  5. Sissy Poettler says:

    After the quarantine, any chance of seeing India’s new habitat and neighbors? I’m a supporter of the Wild Cat Sanctuary in Sandstone, MN.

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