The Austin Zoo has three rescue tigers. Ramah and Christa came from other facilities, and Taj was privately owned and purchased at a truck stop before coming to the zoo. Female Bengal tigers can weigh over 300 pounds and males over 500 pounds. ANA RAMIREZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
  • Texas is has about 2,000 tigers, according to estimates (animal rights organizations).
  • Despite a state law requiring all “pet” tigers to be registered, only 50 are recorded.
  • Experts do say because of lack of regulation enforcement is problematic for the state, national and the entire tiger populations.


By some estimates, about a thousand tigers live in Texas, lots of in yards and most not registered with the state, which is believed to be the second-largest tiger population worldwide behind India.
Texas permits ownership of unique pets and requires owners to register their animals with the state, however, as of February only 50 tigers were recorded, stated Chris Van Deusen, a representative for the Texas Department of State Health Providers.

Animal rights supporters state many tigers go unregistered because county enforcement of the registration guidelines is frequently lax.

Most Texas counties have actually prohibited tiger ownership, however, the state doesn’t track which counties permit tigers and which do not, making it difficult, if not impossible to track unregistered tigers in the state, said Avoid Trimble, advisory director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network.

” The tragedy here is that we do have laws, however, the laws are ineffective in any affordable way,” Trimble said. “It’s really very, extremely sickening to us, when we worked as difficult as we did to get the (tiger registration) law passed, now after 15 years to know … it’s just not happening.”

Trimble stated when the state does not know where independently owned tigers are located, it can not examine to ensure that the animals are being properly fed and taken care of. In case of an escape, a tiger can posture a security hazard for neighborhoods and first responders.

Tigers are endangered with simply an approximated 3,000 to 4,500 living in the wild, in South and Southeast Asia, China and far eastern Russia. A century earlier, there were an estimated 100,000 living in the wild. Tigers have actually fallen victim to poaching, retaliatory killings and a shrinking environment, according to U.S. conservation group Defenders of Wildlife.

Williamson, Bastrop and Bexar counties are amongst those that restrict owning tigers as pets. Other counties, such as Lubbock and Jefferson, allow private ownership. In Travis County, just those with a Class C exhibitor’s license are allowed to own big cats, according to data from the Texas Humane Legislation Network.

Trimble said the fact that it is fairly easy for individuals to buy tigers makes them even harder to track.

” You can buy them online, or you can purchase them on the side of the highway, or you can trade them with somebody,” Trimble stated. “There’s absolutely nothing that requires a sales slip for the seller. So the seller does not need to report anything, and the buyer doesn’t have to report anything.”

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia restrict ownership of unique cats as family pets, while 4 states have no laws concerning their regulation.

Leigh Henry, director of wildlife policy and wildlife preservation for the World Wildlife Fund, estimates there have to do with 5,000 tigers in the United States, however, he includes there is no way to definitively count them.

Henry said the absence of consistency in regulation and enforcement in the U.S. could have an impact on an international scale since when the federal government does not know where exotic animals are, they are more susceptible to fall under the unlawful trade, which is the No. 1 threat to wild tigers.

” There are more tigers in the United States than there remain in the wild, and there’s something really incorrect with that photo,” Henry stated. “And it makes it extremely difficult when you’re in worldwide conferences with governments for the United States to be a great (anti-poaching) advocate when we have 5,000 tigers of our own that are really inadequately controlled.”

Henry said standardizing big cat guidelines throughout the country might help restrict the tiger population.

” If one state bans ownership and another doesn’t, you’re visiting animals flowing throughout state lines, and it’s simply far more easy for enforcement purposes if those are blanket laws across the United States at the federal level,” Henry said.

Henry assisted draft a proposal in Congress a decade ago to prohibit ownership of unsafe unique animals in every state. The bill passed away in committee, together with comparable costs in subsequent years.

An expense introduced last year, Big Cats Public Safety and Protection Act, had 123 House co-sponsors, however simply one from Texas, U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi.

Farenthold stepped down this month amid unwanted sexual advances claims. He didn’t respond to questions about his interest in banning tiger ownership.

Security and rights

Louis Dorfman, head of the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary beyond Fort Worth, thinks that for Texans, the right to owning tigers is thought about a person’s right.

” Responsible ownership of an animal should be an individual’s prerogative, but likewise it shouldn’t infringe on the rights of others,” said Dorfman, who has 23 tigers that are not registered with the state, although his sanctuary is signed up.

Photo by Sayantan Kundu from Pexels

Dorfman, 80, who has actually cared for more than 100 tigers over his lifetime, said tigers can be cared for securely and responsibly.

However state Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, stated between 1990 and 2013, more children were eliminated or injured by big cats in Texas than in another state. Throughout those years, more than 22 individuals across the country were eliminated by big cats, inning accordance with a post by the Humane Society.

In 2013, Lucio sponsored Senate Bill 1627 banning private ownership of big cats. The bill was referred to the Senate Crook Justice Committee, but the committee didn’t vote on it.

Patti Clark, director of the Austin Zoo, a not-for-profit rescue zoo, stated she tries to motivate people to not buy unique animals as animals not only for public safety but for the security of the animals also.

” Individuals are not set approximately provide the ideal kind of housing, a tiger’s proper diet and appropriate veterinary care for these unique animals,” Clark said. “As soon as that animal matures … they’re not going to be able to connect with that animal. They’re not going to have the ability to attend to that animal.”

The Austin Zoo has three tigers, one of which was bought at a truck stop by an 18-wheeler driver, inning accordance with zoo information.

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