Tiger owner, animals evaluated after second call for help

by James Muñoz Posted on November 23, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Though the Tuesday alert about loose tigers was a false alarm, authorities decided to take a closer look at the owner who made the calls.

Tuesday morning around 9:21 a.m. Bexar County Sheriff’s deputies received a call saying their were three escaped tigers at the home in the 27000 block of O’Krent.

The owner had called a friend saying he needed help, and that friend in turn, called in the deputies.

San Antonio Zoo officials rushed to the scene, along with a member of their shoot team.

Nearby Timberwood Park Elementary School went on lockdown as a preventative  measure. But, it was all for naught.

After a thorough search of the property, deputies found all three cats securely confined in their cages.

They did find a hole in the fencing, a result of an earlier accident.

“Well, there was never anything to fear because the cats are always in the cages and he was thinking he had more cats than he did,” said SAZooworld’s Sidney Lanier. “He was looking at stuffed animals and thought they were real.”

But, then late on Tuesday, authorities went back out to the home after the owner placed a second call.

Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is looking into three tigers kept at SA Zooworld in north Bexar County.

Inspectors want to make sure the owner, who has a license to house the three tigers, can properly care for the big cats.

Friends say the owner is in the hospital being evaluated. They are concerned about his overall health.

They are also concerned about the three large tigers. Early Wednesday morning an inspector with the USDA visited the home.

Bexar County sheriff’s deputies were also on site. Sources close to the situation say the inspector documented several concerns.

But, that full inspection won’t be made available to the public for about a month. In the meantime, the vice president of SA Zooworld is taking care of the wild animals and says, as always, the tigers are properly secured.

Kens 5 has learned the USDA inspector thought the tigers were a little thin. One has an issue with his front leg, and of course the fence around the entire property still has a gaping hole.

The owner is licensed to exhibit the tigers and may have to make some improvements to maintain that license.


BEXAR COUNTY — Bexar County deputies are saying false alarm after investigating a report of loose tigers in north Bexar County that prompted the lockdown of a nearby elementary school.

Deputy Chief Dale Bennett said three tigers were reported loose at a home in the 27000 block of O’Kent drive around 9:21 a.m.

He said the homeowner does own large exotic cats, but that all three cats were found inside their cages when deputies arrived.

The property is registered as SA Zooworld. The owner has reportedly worked with wild animals for 40 years and has rescued a number lions, rigers, leopards and mountain lions. According to the sheriff’s department, he is only permitted to have three large cats on the property.

The sheriff’s office was alerted after the owner called a friend, saying he needed help. Fearing the cats were loose, deputies said that person then called authorities. San Antonio Zoo officials said they sent three workers — a member of their shoot team, a veterinarian and a member of their living collections department — after the sheriff’s office contacted them for help in recapturing the tigers.

Nearby Timberwood Park Elementary School, of the Comal ISD, was locked down Tuesday morning per the request of the sheriff’s office.

Sgt. Valentine Saucedo said deputies thoroughly searched the property but found nothing. “We’ve pretty much concluded our search as far as we’ve determined,” he said. “We’ve gone all over the whole property. We’ve walked it. We’ve driven and we’ve driven around it. We’ve gone looking, checking in all the trees to make sure they didn’t climb up there.”

Deputies said the owner of the tigers appeared confused. Late Tuesday Bexar County authorities were back out at the home after saying they received a second call from the owner.  They will be conducting an evaluation on the man before closing the books on this case.