Houston tiger could still be in city, has likely been passed between homes: police

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The tiger that has been missing since Sunday could still be in Houston, according to police. 

Houston police Commander Ron Borza said Friday during a news conference that even though officials have had “no luck” finding the tiger, he believes it has not been transported out of the city yet.

“I believe since Monday that tiger’s probably been passed around six, seven, eight times to different locations here in Houston,” Borza said. “I don’t think it’s out of Houston yet. Maybe out of the county, but I don’t think so. I think it’s still here in Houston.”

Borza said police have handled between 200 and 300 phone calls about the tiger, who is a 9-month-old male named India, and so has the local animal shelter, BARC. However, none of the tips have panned out.

“We’ve gone to a few locations here in Houston and we have not had any luck finding the tiger yet,” Borza said. 

Officials have also visited everyone who is known to be involved in the exotic animal trade in Houston, Borza said. Those visits have also revealed nothing so far. 

On Friday, the man last seen with the tiger, Victor Hugo Cuevas, was taken back into custody on a murder charge unrelated to the incident with the tiger, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Cuevas, the cat’s alleged caretaker, was taken into custody on Monday in relation to the missing tiger but was released on Wednesday after posting bond. Cuevas — who was allegedly seen putting the tiger into an SUV and driving away — is facing charges of evading police related to the tiger incident. 

The tiger, a 9-month-old male named India, was seen roaming a Houston neighborhood this week. 
(José Antonio Ramos)

However, Cuevas was taken into custody again on Friday for an unrelated murder charge. A judge in Fort Bend County revoked Cuevas’ bond for that charge and raised it to $300,000, according to the Chronicle. 

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On Friday, during the news conference and ahead of Cuevas’ bond hearing, Borza said Cuevas has been “uncooperative” in the search for the tiger.

“He and his lawyer are uncooperative right now,” Borza said. “He is in a bond hearing this morning in Fort Bend County to revoke his murder bond. So I’m hoping that that occurs and maybe if he goes to jail, he’d be more cooperative with us. We’ll see how that goes.” 

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Cuevas’ lawyer, Michael W. Elliott, spoke with Fox News earlier this week. According to him, locating the tiger and getting him to a good preserve, zoo or sanctuary is one of his main concerns right now.

Cuevas has denied being the cat’s owner, and his lawyer told Fox News that Cuevas is not necessarily the man who put the tiger into the SUV and drove away.

Fox News’ Michael Hollan contributed to this report.

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