Nahla the Conroe Texas tiger found wandering the streets near Coral Cove Pass, was moved Wednesday to the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary (IEAS) near Fort Worth but not before a custody hearing and an apparent attempt to steal the Bengal tiger from the city’s animal shelter.
Police said a masked man with chain cutters in hand broke into the shelter with the intent of taking Nahla at about 5:40 a.m., just hours before the big cat’s scheduled move, marking the strangest twist to the weeklong drama.
The man, wearing a camouflage jacket, black shirt and pants and gloves, left after being unable to gain entry into the area holding the tiger, surveillance video showed. Conroe police Lt. Dorcy McGinnis said it’s unclear how long the man was in the shelter, but he was gone before the first employees arrived at about 6:30 a.m.
It was the first time someone had tried to break in to the facility for abandoned and abused animals, McGinnis said.
“They are usually found roaming neighborhoods or taken from owners who don’t follow registration or insurance requirements. And zoos often won’t take the animals because they were born in captivity with unknown bloodlines,” said Louis Dorfman, the sanctuary’s chairman and animal behaviorist. “The young tiger appeared to be in good health. She ate well and played with balls and bones in her own quarter-acre pen on the 50-acre property. It’s a bigger area than she’s ever been (in),” Dorfman said. “But she is adjusting well. She isn’t nervous.”
There are few statewide regulations in Texas for owning “dangerous wild animals,” such as lions, tigers and bears. It’s generally up to individual cities and counties to decide whether to ban them as pets.
A bill was filed last year to strengthen regulation of wild animals but didn’t advance beyond a state House committee. Some state and local officials raised concerns over the cost of enforcing the law. The Harris County Sheriff’s Department, for one, said it would cost $480,000, including the hiring of five additional staff members, training and equipment, to comply with the bill for the current fiscal year.
WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society will feature Nahla’s story in our narrative as we continue to promote our educational programs and changes in federal and state regulations with respect to prohibiting private possession of big cats. We reached out to Mr. Dorfman at IEAS this week to offer our support for Nahla.
Please visit Nahla at her new beautiful new home at IEAS.