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Tiger escapes to wander the streets of Houston suburb before being recaptured

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CONROE, Texas (April 22, 2016) — Police may have solved the mystery of the tiger found wandering the streets of suburban Houston.

The Conroe Police Department says it started getting calls Thursday about a tiger spotted in a Coral Cove Pass subdivision. They posted pictures of the animal on Facebook and asked the public to assist in finding its owner. Within 24 hours, they got their answer.

Conroe Police Sgt. Kevin Johnson told CNN on Friday the female tiger was evacuated from a nearby Harris County rescue farm because of intense flooding this week. Its handler apparently gave it to a person in Conroe who was not prepared for the animal — and it escaped.

Officers captured the feline and transported it to a local animal shelter. It did have on a collar and leash. The cat’s front claws had been removed.

The suspects in the case have not been identified but they could be fined for not having proper permits. In Conroe, there’s an ordinance that prohibits “dangerous animals” within city limits.

A local couple told CNN affiliate KTRK that they saw the tiger while driving in the neighborhood.

Erin Poole told the affiliate her boyfriend Jonathan Gessner got out of the car and said “I’m going to go catch it.” She said the tiger assumed a pouncing position behind a bush and she was scared it was going to attack him. But what happened next was a surprise.

“When it started running toward me and it jumped on me and started licking me in the face, I started playing with it and petting it and everything,” Gessner said.

Authorities didn’t believe the tiger reports at first. “I’m thinking it’s going to be a normal house cat. And I get out there and it’s a tiger,” said Mindi Mayfield with Conroe Animal Control.

Police in Conroe say they know where the animal belongs, but relocation hasn’t happened yet.

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