New Mexico officers followed a trail of blood and found the uninjured cub in a crate, and took him to the local zoo
Police in New Mexico investigating reports of a shooting followed a trail of blood to a mobile home, and discovered a young tiger cub inside a crate.
The uninjured cub was not, officials said, the same illegally kept tiger that investigators were searching for last summer when they raided a nearby house in Albuquerque and found instead a stash of guns, cash, drugs and a 3ft alligator.
But the bizarre circumstances of their latest discovery, a playful Bengal tiger cub estimated at only a few months old and 20 pounds in weight, has investigators looking more closely at links between exotic animals and crime.
In a statement, the New Mexico department of game and fish referenced TV shows such as the hit Netflix documentary series Tiger King, in which two of the main characters kept big cats including tigers in private zoos, and later ended up in prison in a murder-for-hire plot or charged with money laundering.
“Throughout history, individuals have sought to possess exotic wildlife often as a novelty or out of personal interest,” the statement said.
“In recent years [we have] noted a substantial increase in inquiries about permits to import or possess tigers associated with the practice on popular television shows.”
The tiger found in Albuquerque was taken to the city’s ABQ BioPark zoo, where department officials said it was making friends. “It appears to be weaving in and out of people’s legs out somewhere at the BioPark, drinking water and doing kind of tiger cub things,” spokesperson Darren Vaughan told KRQE TV.
Tim Cimbal, the department’s field division commander, said it was not the same tiger that was being sought last summer, because that would be at least a year old by now and up to 90lbs in weight.
Police officers who responded to Tuesday’s incident found one man with a non life-threatening gunshot wound to his leg, and arrested another in possession of a semi-automatic handgun.
Detectives believe the victim might have been injured by a stray bullet, and are looking into who owned the tiger and why it was being kept illegally inside the mobile home.
It was already illegal in New Mexico in December when Joe Biden signed the federal Big Cat Public Safety Act, ending what the president called the “horrific” practice of keeping big cats such as tigers and lions as pets or as petting zoo amusements.
In a statement to CBS News, Laura Hagen, a state director with the Humane Society of the US, said she abhorred private “ownership” of the exotic animals.
“Big cat cubs like the tiger found in Albuquerque are not pets. They are dangerous, wild animals and don’t belong in homes or dog crates,” she said.


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