- Victor Hugo Cuevas was confronted by Houston cops after a tiger was spotted lounging on his lawn.
- After a short standoff with the cops, Cuevas, 26, took off in a white Jeep – Bengal tiger in tow.
- He was arrested on Monday and charged with evading arrest, but the tiger is still at large.
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The residents of a sleepy West Houston suburb were shocked to see a full-sized Bengal tiger stalking down the street.
But spotting the tiger was not the most dramatic thing that happened in the Texas neighborhood on Sunday. When the Houston Police turned up to handle the incident, the tiger’s owner, Victor Hugo Cuevas, 26, popped his pet tiger into his white Jeep Cherokee and sped off after a brief standoff with the cops.
The alarming series of events was detailed in a statement on Twitter released by the Houston police department, who showed up at Cuevas’s rented property at 1103 Ivy Wall Drive around 8 p.m. on Sunday when reports flooded in about a tiger on the loose.
The department posted an update on Monday, saying that Cuevas had been arrested and charged with one felony count of evading arrest.
The Bengal tiger, however, has not been found as of press time.
“Anyone with information on the tiger is urged to contact HPD Major Offenders,” said the Houston Police in a tweet.
Houston police commander Ron Borza told reporters during a news conference on Monday afternoon that Cuevas had been living in the rental property while out on a $250,000 bond in a pending murder case. Cuevas is facing a first-degree murder charge in relation to a July 2017 shooting of a man in a Richmond, Texas, sushi restaurant parking lot.
“We received reports of a Bengal tiger on Ivy Wall Drive. An off-duty deputy came to the house and confronted the owner of the tiger. There was a brief confrontation about the tiger being out in public, which is against city ordinance,” Borza said.
According to a report by ABC News, Cuevas was seen on video exiting his home, grabbing the tiger by its collar and kissing it, then moving it back into the residence.
Borza said that Cuevas popped the tiger in a white SUV when cops from the Houston police department showed up and got away with the big cat after a brief, high-speed pursuit.
“Obviously, if you see a Cherokee with a big tiger in it, it would be good to call us,” Borza added.
Borza added that Cuevas had other animals on the property, including two monkeys. However, Borza noted that while it was not illegal to have monkeys under 14kg, it is against the city’s regulations to own a tiger within the Houston city limits. He added that this city ordinance bars all Houston residents from owning big animals and that doing so would be counted as a misdemeanor.
Several eyewitness videos and images from the scene showed the tiger sitting comfortably on the lawn and pacing around the house’s front yard.
A video released by local news outlet KHOU 11 News Houston showed the tiger walking slowly around the yard, then settling down on the lawn.
-KHOU 11 News Houston (@KHOU) May 10, 2021
Bengal tigers are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of endangered animals. The WWF estimates that there are only 3,900 tigers left in the wild, but they are still prime targets of the booming big cat trade in the US.