India the Bengal tiger — who set off a city-wide cat hunt when he was seen on the streets of Houston — now has a new home.
The 175-pound animal, named India, has been released into his new half-acre habitat at Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, a few hours outside of the city, the Humane Society announced Monday.
“He already found a large log that is clearly his favorite, and enjoys stretching, scratching and marking his scent,” Noelle Almrud, senior director of Black Beauty, said in a statement.
“He bounces around the habitat exploring all of the new smells and stalking his toys in the thick tall grass, illustrating his wild instincts.”
Video released by the Humane Society showed the big cat playfully splashing around in a pool of water, rolling on its back in tall grass and playing with a large ball.
The footage was much more lowkey than the viral May 9 video which captured an armed confrontation when the then-collared cat was seen relaxing in a yard in a residential street in Houston.
“Get the f–k back inside. F–k you and your f–king tiger,” the man, reportedly an off-duty cop, yelled at the owner of the tiger.
The alleged owner, Victor Hugo Cuevas, was found the next day.
But it took much longer to find India. Authorities searched for the tiger for a week as tips poured in about its possible whereabouts, and police finally announced his capture on May 15.
Authorities said that Cuevas’ wife helped them locate the animal, and she had known “where the tiger was at all times.”
The Humane Society said India was put in a temporary enclosure to adjust to a larger space and released into his new home Saturday, the society said.
Tigers and other big cats like India “languish” in tiny enclosures across the US, the president and CEO of the Humane Society lamented in her blog.
“Deluded buyers treat baby tigers like domestic cats, but once those tigers hit maturity, they become extremely dangerous — in short order, the cute, cuddly oversized kitten becomes a massive, unpredictable predator,” CEO Kitty Block said.
“And that’s when the fates of tigers like India typically take a dramatic turn for the worse,” she continued.
“When their natural predatory instincts kick in, they lose their status as beloved family ‘pet’ and are suddenly locked up and often kept in isolation in dramatically inadequate enclosures where they cannot exercise any natural behaviors.”