A strange story out of Houston this week.
Some people entered an abandoned house to smoke marijuana and, to their surprise, they found a tiger in the house.
Now that tiger is settled in his new home right here in East Texas, safe and sound at Black Beauty Ranch in Henderson County.
Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison is a refuge and rehabilitation center for exotic animals.
The juvenile tiger that caused quite a stir in Houston will have the best accommodations and veterinary care possible.
“When I saw him come out of that horrid transport cage, the first thing I said was ‘this is why we do what we do’ because these animals do not deserve to be living their lives in transport cages,” said Noelle Almrud, Black Beauty Ranch Director.
Black Beauty Ranch wasn’t the immediate choice for the tiger’s new home. If it weren’t for a Facebook message, the tiger could have ended up elsewhere.
“I was able to reach out to BARC after that to hopefully get him here. And fortunately we did get him,” said Almrund.
Upon the tiger’s arrival it became apparent what kind of conditions he lived in.
“We noticed yesterday when he walked out onto the grass he was, like, walking on hot sand for the first time. I’ve seen that a lot in these big cats that have never been on grass before,” said Dr. Mikaela Vetters, lead veterinarian. “It looks a little strange, but it’s very wonderful to see because you know this is a great day for them and it’s the first time they’ve been on the grass.”
A sign of just how rough of a life he had before his discovery.
“It’s two-fold, I think. It’s heartbreaking to know that he’s never seen (grass) before, but it’s why we’re all here, to give him an opportunity,” said Dr. Vetters. “I wish he didn’t have to experience it for the first time but it’s why we all do this job.”
The tiger is still adjusting to his new life.
When new people are around he can be seen pacing the fence. It’s a sign of stress or agitation, the same way a person might pace.
The staff hope this will get better with time.
“This morning we knew he was pretty calm after what he went through yesterday because he greeted us with chuffs,” said Christi Gilbreth, Lead Keeper. “That’s kind of like a greeting that tigers do to each other and those that they’re comfortable with.”
An animal surrender like this may seem rare, but it’s actually an ever-present problem in Texas.
“Tigers do not make great pets. I can’t stress that strongly enough,” said Almrud. “We see this over and over again. People think the cubs are cute and they want to play with them, but they grow up and they are wild animals.”
Almrud adds both state and federal lawmakers are pushing to make private ownership of big cats completely illegal.
Staff are waiting until their new striped resident is more adjusted to his new home before they give him a full veterinary exam, but so far they think he is healthy and will enjoy his second chance at life.
In the meantime, Black Beauty Ranch relies heavily on donations and could always use more.