HOUSTON (KTRK/CNN) - Houston police officials say they are investigating after a tiger was found in an abandoned home by a person who went there to smoke marijuana.
The person called 311 for help and the call was directed to the BARC animal shelter.
Police said the unusual call initially prompted them to question the validity of the incident.
“A concerned citizen called 311. They were trying to get into this house to smoke marijuana. We questioned them as to whether they were under the effects of the drugs or they actually saw a tiger. They saw a tiger in this building, this vacant house that’s obviously been abandoned for some time,” said Sgt. Jason Alderete, of HPD’s Major Offenders, Livestock Animal Cruelty Unit.
Once officers arrived and saw the animal, they faced the challenge of getting it out.
“He’s in a rinky-dink cage that could easily bust open. It was secured with a nylon strap and a screwdriver for the top of the cage. He could have gone on a rampage in the city … anything could have happened!” said Alderete.
First, they tranquilized the tiger and they brought in a wrecker to help get the large cat out.
The tiger was loaded onto a trailer and taken to BARC.
"The animal was in a tiny garage, completely dark, smelled like urine, deplorable conditions. The animal was really thirsty so we were able to give it some water and so that was a good thing. We'll get it back to BARC and figure out what tigers eat," said BARC division manager, Jarrad Mears.
Crews nicknamed the tiger "Tyson" after a character in the movie "The Hangover," according to police.
Since the incident, BARC officials say they have been in communication with the county on where to place the tiger.
“We made arrangements for the tiger to be transferred to another facility that is licensed to handle exotic pets,” said Laura Cottingham, the city’s spokesperson for BARC.