A tiger, weighing around 350 pounds, has been found caged in the garage of an empty house in Houston. The Texas owner of the wild cat, Brittany Garza, told police the house belonged to her friend.
She said she raised the animal from a cub and named it ‘Rajah.’ She has since been arrested for animal cruelty.
Police said they transported the tiger to an animal sanctuary called the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, in Texas. The ranch said the animal was believed to be around 2 years old. He was not malnourished, but overweight. This was likely due to a lack of exercise.
"I'm willing to face the consequences, even though he's never been cruelly treated and he's always had food and water," Garza told ABC’s station KTRK-TV.
"He was my priority, every day, day and night feeding him…. I feel like I lost my child. I think about him every day,” she said.
Rajah had grown too large for Garza’s home and she knew he needed a new home. She said she had made arrangements for an animal sanctuary in College Station to take him, and that she only kept him caged in the garage in the meantime. She said the tiger was due to be picked up by the sanctuary’s workers, but that he had been found just before it could happen.
In the US, only 35 States have banned the private ownership of wild cats, and Texas is not one of them.
Animal welfare organisation, Network for Animals (NFA), said keeping the wild animal as a pet was a danger to Garza’s family and her community.
“Tigers are not pets. You cannot cage them up, that’s not love. These big cats belong in the wild because it’s their natural habitat,” says NFA’s chief campaigner David Barritt.
“Now is the time for all States and countries to place a ban on private citizens owning wild animals. What if this animal accidentally got loose and someone got injured or killed? If you want a pet to cuddle, rather adopt a dog. Don’t put the lives of others in danger.”