Victor Cuevas, known as “The Tiger Man” for a viral video of him handling a Bengal tiger, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for murder. He was found guilty of an unrelated shooting and killing a man at a shopping center in Fort Bend County in 2017 in his trial last week.
Cuevas’ tiger name is India, and she became famous alongside her owner Victor after a video that circulated in May of 2021 of him handling the animal outside his house. Even though it is illegal to keep these types of exotic animals, it is legal in Texas under specific conditions but is not allowed inside the city of Houston. India and her owner went briefly missing for some months, as an escape from the $125,000 bond he was out on.
Reports from his neighbors from 2021, prior to his arrest in 2022, show videos and images of India roaming and sleeping outside Cuevas’s home. Neighbor Jose Ramos told CNN that he was eating outside when he saw the animal in the front yard. “I had to pinch myself,” he said. “Was this real?”
When police arrived at the scene, Victor came out of the house appearing skittish at the fact that one man was armed and pointing at the tiger. “He sounded very stressed out, very anguished by the mere fact that the deputy was aiming at the tiger and ready to shoot him.”, Ramos stated for CNN. Cuevas and India disappeared for months after this event.
Fast forward to May 2022, the man was arrested with a felony evading charge to add to his arrest, but the tiger was missing, according to Houston Police. During a few days, there were no tracks of the animal, much to the concern of Houstonians from Cuevas’s neighborhood and area. India was given to the authorities on Sunday afternoon by his wife Gia, and his attorney claimed he is not the owner of the tiger.