New Mexico police investigating a shooting made the surprising discovery of a Bengal tiger cub being kept in a dog crate.
Albuquerque Police discovered the 20lb tiger after responding to reports of gunfire and following a trail of blood to a mobile home in the city.
Officers had originally responded to a convenience store where a bystander had been shot in the leg when they heard more shots fired and ended up at the property.
After making the discovery, officers obtained a search warrant and handed the tiger cub over to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.
Officials say that the cub is in good health and is now being looked after at the city’s ABQ BioPark zoo.
“The tiger will reside in its temporary home at the BioPark until an investigation is completed and a permanent facility is located,” the agency said.
It is illegal to import or possess most wildlife and exotic species in New Mexico without a proper permit, the department added, and tigers may only be possessed by a permitted zoo in New Mexico.
Last August police and conservation officers raided two homes in the city in response to “intelligence that a tiger was being illegally held at one of the residences.”
The agency says that no tiger was found but they did discover a three-foot alligator
“The Department of Game and Fish suspects that the tiger confiscated Tuesday is not the same tiger sought during the August 2022 search,” Field Operations Division Col. Tim Cimbal said.
Officials believe that the tiger they were searching for last year would be older and weigh at least 50lb.
The agency says that in the wake of TV shows such as Tiger King, they have “noted a substantial increase” in inquiries about permits “to import or possess tigers.”