“Tiger King” star Carole Baskin mentioned Houston residents have been in “extreme danger” as a 9-month-old tiger cub roamed outside earlier this week — and that the large cat might’ve simply been triggered to kill.
Baskin weighed in on the drama that unfolded Sunday evening when the tiger was caught on video prowling the residential neighborhood.
“That cat was laying around in the front yard, looking for what it could get into,” Baskin told CNN on Wednesday. “And I had heard that there was a children’s birthday party in the neighborhood. Children running and screaming and having fun, that would’ve triggered every instinct in that cat to kill.”
The male Bengal tiger named India had escaped its confines for “quite a while” Sunday earlier than its owner, Victor Hugo Cuevas, corralled it again inside and drove off as cops responded, Baskin mentioned.
No one was injured in the course of the wild confrontation involving a Waller County sheriff’s deputy, who urged Cuevas — who on the time was out on bond on a November homicide case — to take the animal again inside.
Baskin mentioned the deputy, Wes Manion, “did exactly the right thing” and confirmed “amazing restraint” by not taking pictures the animal on sight.
“He kept eye contact, he backed away slowly,” Baskin mentioned. “A tiger, if you look down, if you turn, if that neighbor had run back to his door, that just triggers their instinct to kill.”
Houston police have mentioned the tiger was stored in the house, the place investigators imagine Cuevas additionally stored two monkeys.
Baskin mentioned the apex predators don’t belong in a yard or basement.
“Tigers are hard-wired to roam hundreds of square miles, so there’s no cage that’s going to be sufficient for them,” Baskin mentioned. “And the only reason that people have tigers as pets is to try and show off to others that they are more powerful than the most powerful creature on the planet. That already tells you that the kind of people who own tigers are really dangerous, reckless people.”
Baskin mentioned the animal was seemingly stored in a “concrete barren cage” and would hopefully be taken to an accredited sanctuary if and when it’s discovered. But its future is equally troubling, she mentioned.
“That cat’s going to be living for the next 20 years in a cage for the next 20 years because somebody bred it to be used as a pay-to-play prop,” Baskin mentioned.
Baskin additionally took goal at Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, saying the Senate ought to’ve taken up the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which bars non-public possession of huge cats. The measure handed the House in December.
“Because if they had, last year when the House passed this bill – the Senate didn’t bring it up for a vote – if it had passed last year, this wouldn’t have happened this time,” Baskin mentioned, including the tiger seemingly aged out of being a “pay-to-play prop” late final yr.
Baskin’s look on CNN, in the meantime, raised questions by some who mentioned the “suspected murderer” — whose rivalry with fellow large cat rescue proprietor Joe Exotic was chronicled in the hit Netflix sequence — had no enterprise talking on the matter.
“That’s blood ratings,” one tweet read.
“Are you seriously giving this ‘expert’ air time,” one other tweet read. “How about a real zoologist. Ask her about her missing dead ex husband.”
Baskin has been lengthy suspected by her daughters of killing her former husband, Don Lewis, who disappeared in 1997. She has denied the allegations, saying in September it might be a “huge relief” to seek out Lewis.
Exotic, who’s serving a 22-year sentence for a 2017 murder-for-hire plot that focused Baskin, has accused his rival of getting Lewis killed and fed to tigers.
Meanwhile, Michael W. Elliott, who represents Cuevas, mentioned he’s given Houston police information on the person they declare truly owns the male tiger.
Elliott advised The Post Wednesday the person’s title is “Deandre” and is believed to be in the higher Houston space. The man who goes by the nickname “D” offers in canines, bears, monkeys, birds and Bengal tigers, Elliott mentioned.
“He is not the owner,” Elliott mentioned, referring to his shopper. “He doesn’t have the tiger.”
Houston police have been nonetheless trying to find the animal early Wednesday, spokesman John Cannon advised The Post.