Texas lawmaker seeks statewide ban to own exotic pets

HOUSTON (FOX 26) — The tiger that was found earlier in the week in southeast Houston is getting settled in his new home at an animal sanctuary in Murchison, Texas. This incident brings up a Texas Senate Bill presented by State Senator Joan Huffman, which would make it illegal to own tigers and other wild animals in the state of Texas.

If passed SB 641 would mean that violators could spend a year in jail and pay a fine of $4,000. It’s currently illegal in the City of Houston, but this week’s incident shows there are those who are willing to take the risk.

State Senator Carol Alvarado supports Huffman's bill. The tiger was found in her district.

"To my surprise, I didn’t know that it was legal for someone to have a wild animal, like this tiger, a Bengal tiger, or any other type of dangerous wild animals," Sen. Alvarado tells FOX 26 News. 

"There’s not a state law on the books that’s in effect right now, so this bill or make it illegal for someone who is unlicensed or an entity to privately own such an animal,” adds Alvarado.

The 350-pound tiger that was found in the Houston home is now at Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch. He is doing well and is being evaluated. The sanctuary director, Noel Almrud, says incidents like this happen too often.

"Tigers do not make good pets," says Almrud. "I can’t stress that strongly enough. We see this over and over again that people think, you know, the cubs are cute and they want to play with them, but they grow up. They are wild animals."

Now if you are still considering a large exotic pet like a tiger, let us put it into perspective for you. Tigers carry a hefty price tag. Between food and medical care, it cost about $45,000 a year just to take care of one!

The Humane Society of the United States has set up a fundraiser to help the sanctuary with the tiger.