An escaped pet tiger was caught on camera as it roamed through a Houston neighborhood Sunday night, before its owner dragged it back inside and then bundled it into his Jeep and fled as police arrived on the scene.
Terrified residents filmed the big cat roaming freely in Ivy Wall Drive, in West Houston, at around 8pm.
The animal appears to be a pet, and is seen wearing a collar in the 54-second clip posted to social media. While the state of Texas has very relaxed laws on ownership of dangerous animals, is illegal to keep a tiger in the city of Houston.
Houston PD spokesman Victor Senties told the DailyMail.com that officers were called to the scene, but the owner fled in a white Jeep Cherokee.
Police pursued the vehicle for a short time through West Houston before losing sight of it as it drove west on Memorial Drive.
Detectives with city’s Major Offenders Division are now hunting for the owner.
In the video, an off duty Waller County Sheriff’s deputy who lives in the neighborhood is seen pointing his gun at the tiger as it stalks towards him.
The deputy backs up a few paces as the tiger gets within a few feet of where he is standing.
A tiger was on the loose in the quiet residential neighborhood of Ivy Wall Drive in West Houston on Sunday night
The tiger, identified by a neighbor as a Bengal, approaches a man with a weapon trained upon it in menacing fashion
The big cat stalks around a home in West Houston before a man who appears to be its owner appeared on the scene
‘There is a freaking Bengal tiger roaming in this yard and this dude needs to be careful,’ a woman is heard saying on the video.
‘What the heck? Why is there a tiger?’
The footage, posted online on Sunday evening, shows several pickup trucks and other vehicles appear to be trying to block the tiger in to prevent it from escaping.
An eyewitness capturing the footage, Maria Torres, can be heard shouting: ‘It has a collar. It is somebody’s pet.’
The person capturing the footage, which has been viewed nearly 750,000 times by Monday morning, makes a run for it when the tiger gets too close.
Eventually, a person who appears to be the tiger’s owner emerges from a house and can be heard saying: ‘I’ll get him, I’ll get him.’
The man grabs the animal by the collar and takes it back into a house.
‘Get the f** back inside. F**k you and your f**king tiger,’ another man can be heard yelling at him.
Senties said the owner of the tiger bundled the big cat into his Jeep and fled the scene as officers arrived. Police pursued the vehicle but soon lost sight of it.
The armed man gestures to residents to stay back as the tiger gets within a few feet of his position
A man grabs the animal by the collar and takes it back into a house
A man who appears to be the tiger’s owner appears and takes the animal back into a house
Senties, the Houston PD spokesman, said they had a possible ID for the tiger owner, who had been seen acting suspiciously with exotic animals in the street before.
The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, 5 foot 5, and around 28 years old.
Neighbor Jose Ramos later told ABC13 that he had seen a capuchin monkey at the residence before.
‘I figured, ‘OK, this is a small animal. It could be domesticated.’ But I never thought they would hold a tiger in their house.’
A person named Rob Wormald posted video of the encounter between the tiger and the deputy on his Twitter account.
‘Apparently there’s a tiger loose on my parents’ West Houston street?’ he writes.
Texas has some of the most lenient pet ownership rules in the country, however it is illegal to own a dangerous animal in the Houston city limits.
The neighborhood where the tiger was filmed is about 18 miles west of downtown Houston and still within its city limits.
Animal welfare activists estimate there could be between 2,000 and 5,000 privately-owned tigers in the Lone Star State – making it second only to India in tiger population.
You CAN keep a tiger as a pet in Texas… but not in Houston
Texas has some of the most lenient exotic pet ownership laws in the country.
People can own ‘dangerous wild animals’ – including lions, tigers, cougars, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, hyenas, bears, coyotes, baboons, chimpanzees, and gorillas – as long as they have the right paperwork.
Anyone wishing to own a dangerous animal in the state has to show they can properly cage and provide for it in order to be eligible for a permit from the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife.
Owners must submit photographs of the animal, photographs of its enclosure, and provide a statement from a licensed veterinarian verifying the animal has been inspected.
They must also have liability insurance.
However, cities and counties have their own laws on exotic pet ownership, and in Houston ownership of dangerous animals is illegal in the city limits.