Tiger surprise: weed smokers find big cat in abandoned Houston home

Houston police sergeant Jason Alderete told local media outlet KTRK-TV: "A concerned citizen called 311".

The wild animal was first discovered by two people who entered the almost vacant house looking for a place to smoke marijuana, KHOU-TV reported officials as saying.

The building, in the 9400 block of East Avenue J., was being used to house a large female tiger in a "rinky-dink" cage in the garage, KPRC-TV reported, citing police.

Despite being relatively calm for a tiger in its situation, it had to be tranquilised so animal rescue officers could get it out of the house safely.

It's illegal to own a tiger in Texas, but a wild-game permit is required.

The tiger was saved Monday by the House Police Department's animal cruelty unit. Although she was friendly, she was tranquilized for safety reasons.

The tiger is being moved to a Texas animal sanctuary on Tuesday at an undisclosed location, Cottingham said.

While the unexpected human-tiger encounter ended happily, authorities said it could have been much bloodier given the crude nature of the tiger's enclosure. "Very, very rarely do we take in a tiger".

News of the tiger has created quite a buzz on social media, and reactions have even been curated into their own Twitter Moment titled "Overweight tiger found in abandoned U.S. home". If the owner is ever found, they could face a big fine. It has two Malayan tigers and "does not have capacity to receive additional tigers", a statement read. They are endangered - the WWF estimates there are fewer than 4,000 left in the wild.

Vanessa Coleman