As a result of a shooting in southeast Albuquerque, police officers found a Bengal tiger in a dog crate, but it wasn’t the same animal they were looking for last year. According to CBS affiliate KRQE-TV, officers found the exotic animal after following a trail of blood at the crime scene.
An investigation is underway and a permanent home for the animal is being sought, according to officials at the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. It was temporarily transferred to the zoo.
According to KRQE-TV, veterinarians at the zoo checked out the 20-pound cub and said it was healthy.
“Somewhere at the BioPark, it appears to be weaving between people’s legs, drinking water and doing things like tiger cubs,” Game and Fish spokesperson Darren Vaughn said.
An Albuquerque-area home last summer was reported to have drugs, guns, cash, as well as a 3-foot alligator, and police hoped the public could help them find a young tiger that had been taken away.
Field Operations Division Col. Tim Cimbal believes the tiger confiscated Tuesday is not the same tiger sought in August 2022.
In August, Cimbal said the tiger weighed around 50 pounds, but this week’s tiger weighs only a few pounds and is only a few months old.
In response to tips that a tiger was being illegally held at one of the residences, authorities served search warrants at two homes in Albuquerque’s South Valley Tuesday afternoon.
An unidentified man was found with a gunshot wound on one leg in a mobile home, possibly caused by a stray bullet.
A blood trail led officers to an unlocked trailer, where they found the tiger inside the crate.
In a statement, Laura Hagen, a director with the Humane Society of the United States, said New Mexico residents are already prohibited from keeping tigers as pets, and federal law prohibits private owners from keeping tigers as pets or breeding the animals.
“Big cats, such as the Albuquerque tiger cub, shouldn’t be kept as pets. They’re dangerous, wild animals that shouldn’t be kept in dog crates or homes,” Hagen said.
According to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, a substantial increase has been noted in inquiries about permits to import or possess tigers.