'It's Victor's tiger,' HPD says wild animal belongs to man whose attorney denied ownership
HOUSTON - Police have confirmed India, the Bengal tiger seen on camera roaming west Houston was safely located Saturday evening.
It's unclear where or how the 9-month-old male tiger was found but investigators have confirmed he does not appear to be harmed.
HPD says the tiger was taken to BARC Animal Shelter, where officials will be holding a press conference at 9 p.m. to give more details.
Commander Ron Borza with the Major Offenders Division for HPD said the investigation is still ongoing but detailed the rescue starting with getting a call from a BARC employee that a concerned citizen put them in contact with Gia, the owner of India.
That’s when HPD met with the owner, named Gia, at Club Westside, where the tiger was turned over to them before transferring him to the animal shelter.
"The animal likes attention, but in no way shape or form, should you have an animal like that in your household," Commander Borza continued. "That animal is only 9 months old; it already weighs 175 pounds, full-grown…it still had its claws and it could do a lot of damage if it decided to but luckily for us, he’s very tame."
This news comes shortly after a judge reset the bond for the supposed owner: Victor Cuevas, who was last seen escorting the tiger on video. However, Cuevas' attorney, Michael Elliott, claimed India does not belong to him.
However, in a shocking turn of events, HPD confirmed the connection between Gia and Cuevas, is the two are married, therefore validating ownership to him.
"It is Victor's tiger," the officer said plainly. "That's what I was told by her and she's the wife of Victor, and she said she's had the tiger for 9 months and that tiger is approximately 9-months old."
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Despite it, video was shared with FOX 26 Friday night, showing India rolling around on the floor and playing tug of war with Cuevas in a seemingly empty living room.
During a separate press conference with Elliott, he doubled down on ownership adding it belongs to a man who goes by "Deandre" or "D" but that Cuevas was heavily involved with the tiger.
"The tiger spent a lot of time with Victor as well," he said. "And Victor took after this cat a lot, cared for it, loved it."
It’s unclear where India the tiger has been during the time he was missing but Commander Borza said Gia brought him to them but does not seem to be facing any charges at this time.
Meanwhile, HPD says India is expected to be in a more safe environment very soon.
"He will be going to a sanctuary tomorrow, where hopefully he will live the rest of his life in a very safe environment," Commander Borza added.