Authorities seize Bengal tiger, other animals after search of Texas home

 

Authorities in South Texas seized several exotic animals, including a Bengal tiger, from a private owner after issuing a search warrant for a narcotics investigation.

The warrant was issued by Sammy Parks, a Drug Enforcement Administration special agent, and executed on March 25 on a five-acre property in the small town of Mercedes, Texas, according to The Associated Press.

Parks said the investigation is ongoing and that details cannot be disclosed at this time. No arrests or drug-related charges have been filed, although the owner did not have proper permits for the animals.

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Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Austin Skero called the location a "pseudo-narco zoo," and confirmed that it had been shut down due to the lack of proper permits.

"[Border Patrol] agents assisted federal and state agencies to seize numerous exotics," Skero said, adding that the animals apprehended included a Bengal tiger, emus, llamas, porcupines and a kinkajou, which were turned over to Texas zoos for proper medical care and placement.

Game wardens from the Texas Parks Wildlife Department were forced to euthanize a bobcat and two deer due to a lack of proper permits and their unknown origin, according to a statement.

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The statement added that the euthanized animals would not have been safe to reintroduce into a native population.

The rest of the animals were relocated to the Austin Zoo to be medically evaluated and rehabilitated, if necessary.

In the state of Texas, owning exotic animals is legal with proper permits and licenses. However, it is against the law to smuggle them into the country.

This is not the first time the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has dealt with exotic tigers. In 2018, near Brownsville, Texas, authorities ran across three men attempting to cross the U.S. southern border with a tiger cub inside of a duffle bag, according to The Washington Post.

The men fled back to the other side of the border, leaving behind the cub for authorities to find. Agents handed the cub over to Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville.