Authorities on Monday were searching for a Texas man whose tiger was found wandering around a residential area in the US city of Houston and who was out on bond on a murder charge.
Video of the Sunday night encounter shows the tiger coming face-to-face with an armed off-duty Waller County sheriff's deputy, police said. During the encounter, the deputy can be heard yelling at the tiger's caretaker to get the animal back inside.
No shots were fired.
When officers arrived, the tiger's owner put the animal in a white Jeep Cherokee and drove off, Houston police Cmdr. Ron Borza said during a news conference Monday. The man got away after a brief pursuit, he said.
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"My main concern right now is focusing on finding him and finding the tiger because what I don't want him to do is harm that tiger. 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," Borza said.
The man, whose name was not released by authorities, was charged with murder in November in neighbouring Fort Bend County and was out on a US$250,000 bond. The man also apparently had two monkeys in the home, Borza said. Authorities plan to charge him with evading arrest, Borza said.
Having a monkey is not illegal in Houston if the animal is under 13.5kg. Tigers are not allowed within Houston city limits unless the handler, such as a zoo, is licensed to have exotic animals.
In 2019, some people who went into an abandoned Houston home to smoke marijuana found a caged tiger. The tiger's owner was later ordered to pay for the animal's care at an East Texas wildlife refuge.
Borza said residents should not have such animals because 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."