When police responded to a shooting in a neighborhood in Albuquerque, New Mexico, they stumbled upon an unusual discovery – a Bengal tiger cub in a dog crate and a trail of blood, but no victim.
A few months old and weighing 20 pounds, the tiger was taken to the ABQ BioPark Zoo for examination by veterinarians. According to officials, it will remain there until an appropriate facility can be identified and the investigation is complete.
Despite the fact that police say a person was grazed by a bullet in the leg outside a nearby convenience store, they were unable to find any other victims at the end of a blood trail leading to a mobile home trailer.
“As they approached the trailer, the door was unlocked and the trail led inside,” according to a news release from the authorities. “Officers made entry to attempt to render aide to anyone who may have been wounded, but did not locate anyone and have yet to locate the individual.”
Police arrested a man they claim was armed with a semiautomatic pistol. His name was identified as Kevin Gerardo Vargas Mercado.
The discovery of the tiger is part of a spike in the illegal possession of exotic animals in recent years that popular reality TV shows have fueled. New Mexico law prohibits the possession of tigers, which can only be kept by zoos in the state.
“The general public is prohibited from possessing a tiger and most other exotic species for any reason,” officials with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish stated.
The agency is offering rewards of up to $1,000 for anyone who provides information about people illegally possessing tigers and other endangered species that leads to charges being brought.