HOUSTON – San Antonio native Carole Baskin is calling out Texas senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn after a tiger was seen roaming around a Houston neighborhood earlier this week.
Baskin is one of the stars of the Netflix documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness?” and is the CEO of Big Cat Rescue, a non-profit animal sanctuary in Tampa, Florida.
A tiger was spotted prowling Sunday night in the 1100 block of Ivy Wall Drive on the city’s West Side before it was captured and taken inside a home and then loaded into a Jeep Cherokee, according to the Houston Chronicle.
“This has become kind of commonplace in Texas,” Baskin told CNN.
San Antonio had its own tiger encounter in February when a teenager spotted a tiger cub when she was searching for her lost dog. Read more on that story here. A second tiger was also spotted in February on a property on the Southwest Side.
After a third tiger was found in San Antonio at a home on the Southeast Side in March, Sheriff Javier Salazar said “Tiger King” may have something to do with the discovery of these wild animals in Bexar County.
Baskin points the finger at Texas senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz telling CNN that they mucked up their opportunity to help pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act which passed in the House but failed to be brought to a vote in the Senate last year.
“If it had passed last year this wouldn’t have happened this time,” Baskin said.
Tiger King’s Carole Baskin calls out Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and John Cornyn (R-TX) over loose tiger in Texas.— The Recount (@therecount) May 12, 2021
She says Senate should have taken up House-passed Big Cat Public Safety Act, which prohibits private ownership of big cats. pic.twitter.com/fGKXFLDjqg
Baskin is referring to HR 1380, also known as the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which specifically “revises restrictions on the possession and exhibition of big cats, including to restrict direct contact between the public and big cats,” according to Congress.gov.
The Big Cat Public Safety Act would specifically restrict the public from owning big cats, including tigers, leopards and cheetahs, according to the Houston Chronicle.
She spoke with KSAT’s sister station KPRC in Houston on Tuesday and said she estimates that the tiger that was seen on Sunday is probably around six months old and 150 pounds.
“I felt so bad for this cat,” Baskin told KPRC. “It had probably never been free in its entire life.”
Something Baskin told both KPRC and CNN is that she was “so impressed with the deputy that showed up on the scene because he did exactly the right thing.”
Texas requires a permit to sell, buy or possess exotic animals like Bengal Tigers but gives cities and counties the discretion to add their own restrictions.
Owning a tiger is currently not illegal by state law in Texas, but owners need to go through a strict permit process. However, San Antonio, Bexar County and the city of Houston all have ordinances that make it illegal to own tigers and other exotic animals.