TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Big Cat Rescue CEO Carole Baskin, also of popular Netflix docu-series “Tiger King” infamy, appeared on CNN this week to comment on a recently escaped tiger in Texas that has yet to be found.
Officials arrested 26-year-old Victor Hugo Cuevas on May 10. He was charged with felony evading arrest after a tiger was found wandering around a neighborhood in Houston Sunday night.
KPRC confirmed Cuevas does not own the tiger, despite police reports.
Baskin appeared on CNN’s “New Day” program Wednesday morning to discuss the incident after seeing the footage of the tiger coming face-to-face with an armed, off-duty sheriff’s deputy. Baskin began by calling out U.S. senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas, saying they should have signed on to the Big Cat Public Safety Act when they were able.
“This cub’s 9 months old, which means it probably aged out of being used as a pay-to-play prop in December of last year when this [the Big Cat Public Safety Act] passed the House with a two-thirds vote,” Baskin said.
The Senate failed to bring up the act during its session.
Baskin is worried about the people around the tiger, as well as the animal itself, saying its caretakers have proven to be “absolutely reckless individuals.”
She said the people in the neighborhood were in extreme danger, as it appears no one knew the cat had escaped for some time before it was found sunning itself in the grass.
As for an alleged birthday party in the area, Baskin said that could have been triggering for the tiger.
“Children running and screaming and having fun, that would have triggered every instinct in that cat to kill,” she said.
As for the off-duty deputy that encountered the cat, Baskin said he did absolutely the right thing, especially for showing restraint and not shooting the animal. He made eye contact and backed away slowly. She explained if a person looks down or turns away from a cat, it can also “trigger their instinct to kill.”
The tiger on the run in Houston has yet to be caught. No further arrests have been made in the case.
“The only reason that people have tigers as pets is to try and show off to others that they are more powerful than the most powerful creature on the planet,” Baskin said.
The Big Cat Rescue website offers a list of information from The Library of Congress on a state-by-state basis regarding the private ownership of exotic cats.
According to The Library of Congress, the Texas legislature passed a state law in 2001 mandating all counties either regulate or ban specific “dangerous” wild animals, including most big cats, or develop a plan to administer a registration process that requires a permit fee, caging standards, liability insurance and veterinary care outlined in state law.
“Many counties have chosen to ban rather then fund a county registration requirement. This is an irresponsible way to manage a state wide problem,” the article reads.
The Library of Congress said there are more tigers in Texas than there are left in the wild.