In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Baskin said the ordeal could have been prevented if Texas U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn had done their jobs in Congress. Exotic cat calamities have become “kind of commonplace” in the Lone Star State, she said.
On Sunday, video began circulating on social media of a tiger roaming on the lush green lawn of a west Houston home. The big cat slowly approaches a man in a black shirt, who is pointing a gun at the animal from across the street.
“No, sir. No, sir!” the man says as the tiger closes the gap between them.
Soon after, the armed man yells at someone (presumably the tiger's owner), "Get the fuck back inside. Fuck you and your fucking tiger.”
Apparently there's a tiger loose on my parents' West Houston street? pic.twitter.com/TgdIiPSPKx— robwormald (@robwormald) May 10, 2021
Another clip captures a bird’s-eye view of the scene. As the tiger approaches the man, the video's narrator says, “Oh my gosh, he’s going to shoot it.” (The tiger was not shot and remains at large; its owner, Victor Hugo Cuevas, 26, was arrested and charged with evading arrest, CNN reported.)
Texas has been home to a handful of recent big cat incidents. A rogue cougar in December was killed by a North Texas hunter in Hunt County. Earlier this year, another tiger wandered free in San Antonio, and a couple from that city was arrested for keeping a bobcat and tiger cub, according to Texas Monthly.
Here's another angle. pic.twitter.com/bvl5g9kzYp— Michael Schwab (@michaelschwab13) May 10, 2021
Baskin told CNN she hopes that Cruz and Cornyn sign onto the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which would prohibit private individuals from owning tigers, lions, leopards, jaguars, cougars and big-cat hybrids. Last year, the Senate neglected to bring the bill up for a vote, even though the House had passed it.
The latest loose tiger incident could have been avoided had the act cleared the Senate, Baskin said.
“The reason for that is this cub’s 9 months old, which means it probably aged out of being used as a pay-to-play prop in December of last year when this passed the House with a two-thirds vote,” she said.
Baskin became (in)famous last year after she was featured in the wildly popular docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. In it, she's targeted by Oklahoma-based animal park owner Joe Exotic, who's serving a 22-year prison sentence after he was convicted of hiring someone to murder Baskin.
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
But some have also pointed the finger at Baskin, whom they accuse of murdering her husband, Donald Lewis, in 1997. That case remains open, although Baskin has long maintained her innocence, according to NME. No criminal charges have been filed against her.
Cruz and Cornyn should still be careful, though: Big cat lovers everywhere could be sharpening their claws.