Tigers in Backyards

Tiger Found In Abandoned Home In Texas

February 13, 2019

What do you picture when you hear the word tiger? Most of the time people will place the tiger in the overgrowth of a forest in Asia, and maybe it’s even stalking its prey waiting for the right moment to attack. There are more than 16,000 tigers in the world, but unfortunately, only 3,800 fit this picture. The rest are in captivity.

The United States does not have a federal law prohibiting ownership of these wild animals, making each state decide their law. The recent discovery of a female tiger in an abandoned house in Houston, TX shows just how severe the problem currently is. According to news reports, the tiger was found in the garage of a vacant house, cramped in a cage, secured only by a screwdriver and a nylon strap. Luckily, this survivor will spend the remainder of her life at a true sanctuary in Texas. The sanctuary is GFAS accredited (much like Turpentine Creek) and a fellow member of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance.

This small cage was Sadie’s home until TCWR rescued her.

Sadly, this is not an uncommon situation. Many people purchase tiger cubs with the intention of having them as pets. As they grow, the owners no longer want them because of the amount of work it requires. Once it reaches this point, the tiger may be abandoned, dropped off at roadside zoos, or go missing. Some animals that call Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge home were previous pets that the owner could no longer take care of due to life situations or they were to “wild”. Sadie, a playful tiger came to us after her owner divorced. Upon arrival, we found Sadie living in a dilapidated cage in her owner’s backyard.

Current Laws

Because of the lack of federal laws, depending on which state you reside in, your neighbor could own a tiger as a pet. The state of Texas alone has more tigers living in backyards than in the wild. The state allows ownership of dangerous, exotic animals once it has been registered by proper authorities. Four states have no laws banning dangerous felines in any capacity: North Carolina, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Alabama.

Creating the change for these big cats takes time, patience, and a lot of persistence. The Big Cat Public Safety Act is that change. This bill addresses a number of issues big cats face.

  • Require animals to be registered.
  • Restricts public interaction with animals, reducing the number of injuries and deaths caused by adult big cats. It would also stop cub petting.
  • Unregulated breeding would be stopped, helping prevent the overpopulation of captive tigers in the United States.
  • End the buying, selling, and trading of big cats putting an end to the big cat exotic animal trade and stop future private ownership.

The past four Congressional sessions included the introduced Big Cat Public Safety Act. It is going into the 5th session. Once reintroduced, we will let you know. In the meantime, you can tell others about this bill and the importance of it getting passed.

To learn more about this bill and how you can help, visit our Advocacy Pages

Post Written By Education Intern Abby Hickam