HOUSTON, Texas -- Police say someone who went to a vacant home in Texas to smoke marijuana ended up discovering an abandoned tiger.
Houston Police Department's Major Offenders, Livestock Animal Cruelty Unit arrived on scene and found a 350-pound tiger inside.
Officials said the cage that kept the animal enclosed was not large or sturdy enough for such a creature of that size.
While the home was abandoned, several packages of meat were found with the animal.
"A concerned citizen called 311," Houston police Sergeant Jason Alderete said. "They were trying to get into this house to smoke marijuana. We questioned them as to whether they were under the effects of the drugs or they actually saw a tiger. They saw a tiger in this building, this vacant house, that's obviously been abandoned for some time."
After obtaining a warrant, they found the female tiger in deplorable conditions.
She was friendly, they said, but she was tranquilized for safety reasons as they moved her from the home over to BARC's headquarters.
"We made arrangements for the tiger to be transferred to another facility that is licensed to handle exotic pets," said Heidi Krahn, executive director of the Center for Animal Research & Education. "Finding a forever home for a tiger is not easy."
She said the center is currently caring for six exotic animals at a cost of more than $1 million.
"I tried to explain to people it's a lot like having a child," she said. "If you have a child, you have insurance. But these guys don't have insurance."
She's seen cases where some tigers are smuggled in from Mexico and said, unfortunately, there are small pockets of breeding facilities across the country. She says it is never a good idea to keep one as a pet.
"They are basically a loaded gun pointed at anyone that encounters them," she said. "They can be extremely dangerous."
Right now, it's unclear what charges, if any, the owner may face because it's under investigation.
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