ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A tiger is still believed to be missing in New Mexico, the state Department of Game and Fish announced Saturday. Authorities believe the tiger was illegally being kept as a pet.
Department investigators believe the tiger – which is less than a year old and is believed to weigh between 30 and 60 pounds – is in New Mexico or a nearby state. Tigers, however, can grow up to 600 pounds, depending on the subspecies.
Conservation officers from NMDGF obtained search warrants for two Albuquerque residences on Aug. 12 and, with assistance from federal, state and local law enforcement, served both warrants in the city’s south valley, the department stated in a news release.
A 26-year-old male inside one of the residences was taken into custody and New Mexico State Police began to clear the home. While doing so, they were advised of three large bags of marijuana drug paraphernalia, several rifles and a handgun. Officers also located a container of cash, according to a news release from the Albuquerque Police Department.
As NMDGF executed a search warrant regarding the purchase of the tiger, they located scales, a white powdery substance and a scale. They also found a five-gallon bag of marijuana in a crawl space in the attic. Officers also located more drugs, including cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and $40,000 in cash. Officers also found a 3-foot alligator they say was illegally possessed. The alligator has since been turned over to the ABQ BioPark.
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Exotic animals illegally held in captivity are often in very poor condition when conservation officers discover them due to a lack of proper care, according to NMDGF. The alligator and the missing tiger are both considered “Group 4” species, which means only zoos are permitted to possess them.
NMDGF is seeking the public’s help to locate the missing tiger. Please call Operation Game Thief at 800-432-4263 if you have any information on the location of this tiger, or if you have information about other wildlife or exotic animals being illegally held by private individuals.