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
A keeper killed by a tiger at a Florida zoo this month broke the rules when she entered the big cat's enclosure, zoo officials said.
Stacey Konwiser, 38, died after the Malayan tiger attacked her. She was the lead tiger keeper at the Palm Beach Zoo.
The 13-year-old male tiger was tranquilized and remains at the zoo.
The April 15 attack happened as Konwiser secured an area where tigers eat and sleep. She "entered that same portion of the night house after it was clearly designated as accessible by a tiger," said Andrew Aiken, president of Palm Beach Zoo.
"Under Palm Beach Zoo policy, zoo employees are never allowed to enter a tiger enclosure to which the animal has access."
The rare tiger, one of four at the facility, is held in a contained area where the animals are fed and sleep.
Zoo officials have declined to provide information on the tiger, including its name.
"Identifying the animal only serves to stigmatize and potentially places the tiger in harm's way," the zoo said. It said it has received threats against the animal.
Zoo officials have said the tiger was off-exhibit at the time and no guests saw what happened.
Konwiser worked at the zoo for three years, and had a lot of experience with tigers, according to zoo officials.
"This was her specialty," zoo spokeswoman Naki Carter said.
"You don't get into this business without the love for the animals and understanding the danger that's involved even more."
Malayan tigers are a critically endangered subspecies. The Palm Beach Zoo provides a special program in which guests can pay extra to see the tigers.
There are fewer than 250 left in the world, Carter said. The zoo is part of a breeding program that aims to keep the animals from becoming extinct.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating.
"Why or how this could possibly occur is the subject of five ongoing investigations, including our own," Aiken said.
When the marine invasion started, the U.S. was taken by surprise -- and overrun.
Today, the lionfish enjoys virtually unrivaled supremacy in its ever-expanding territory from the East Coast to the Caribbean. The distinctively striped interloper from the Pacific has few predators willing to face its venomous spines, and a devastating appetite. Lionfish can reduce native species populations by 90% within weeks of arrival, decimating many useful species such as fish that feed on coral-damaging algae. They consume enough to become obese, and even resort to cannibalism.
These voracious predators are spreading rapidly -- female lionfish release two million eggs a year -- leaving conservationists with an uphill struggle to contain their numbers and preserve threatened ecosystems. In Florida, where lionfish have massively disrupted the fishing industry, locals are fighting back by eating them. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has led a campaign to put lionfish on menus, encouraging fishermen and traders to participate.
Dozens of local restaurants have begun serving the new arrival in the form of ceviche and sushi among other dishes, although demand has yet to match supply. Conservation biologist Joe Roman believes this approach can make a difference. "We have seen some impact and evidence of populations declining," says Roman, citing the example of Cuba where the government have encouraged the harvesting of lionfish.
Since 2003, Roman has helped to pioneer the "invasivore" movement through his popular website 'Eat the invaders,' offering information and recipes to help offset the disastrous impact of invasive species. From feral pigs rampaging across Texas, to the Burmese Python making itself at home in Florida, invasive species cost the U.S. over $120 billion a year in damage, wiping out local species and destroying ecosystems. Roman does not believe that eating alone can solve the problem, but sees it as a valuable -- and enjoyable -- access point. The invasivore movement has benefited from the growing popularity of sustainability lifestyles, and its offshoots such as foraging, as well as reaching out to hunters that would usually be on the opposing side.
"There is an overlap," says Roman. "We have more conservationists going out to harvest their own meals, and hunters focusing on (killing) species that will improve the environment." The main value may be in awareness, believes Dr. Matthew Barnes, an ecologist at Texas Tech University, who maintains online resource Invasivore.org The Invasivore blog stresses the need for safety. Species near roads can accumulate toxic metals, and the Florida pythons were found to contain double the safe level of mercury. But if foragers are careful, Barnes believes the practice can be accessible to all, particularly if they start with invasive plants.
The EU recently announced control measures for 37 species, including the Sacred Ibis and North American Bullfrog. Genovesi welcomes the step but hopes for a larger-scale response as thousands of species are causing damage. Maintaining pressure on the decision-makers is critical now, which means keeping the profile of invasive species high. For invasivores, the challenge is to make their recipes irresistible.
Animal control officers get more calls in the spring as animal activity picks up, but strange animal calls happen year around.
Chris Kemper is the Longview Animal Control Supervisor and he has responded to thousands of animal calls, but some are more memorable than others. Take, for example, the dog with a jar on its head. “You would think this would be a once-in-a-career type of call,” However, about a year ago it happened again; the second time it wasn’t a quick fix. “We literally chased for two days before we were able to catch it,” Kemper explained. He caught the second dog because condensation fogged the jar, making it opaque, and he was able to sneak up on the dog.
Another animal case was the yogurt cup on a skunk’s head. Kemper snuck up on that one too, but ran when he pulled the cup off its head. “The skunk seemed to be very appreciative and did not spray me,” Kemper stated.
Sometimes he gets the mythical creature call. Kemper says he’s responded to a chupacabra call or two, but he hasn’t actually seen one yet. “It was a coyote that had a severe case of mange,”
He had a fox with a case of mange, too. And then there are snakes. “Twelve-foot Burmese Python,” That snake was hanging out at a basketball court, but there was also one left in a hotel room.
Occasionally he retrieves something cute, like a sugar glider. “When you come into work every day, you stand a chance of seeing something that you never in your life imagined that you would see,” Kemper added.
Many of the wild animals Kemper captures are relocated out of the city limits, and abandoned pets that are given a clean bill of health are adopted out by the Humane Society of East Texas.
Do you have any strange animal stories if so let us know…
Which animals smell like the treats at a movie concession stand?
Binturongs, or bearcats, are neither bears nor cats. These Southeast Asian mammals are actually related to small forest predators like fossas, civets, and genets. They also happen to smell like hot buttered popcorn. A new study published in The Science of Nature found this bewitching scent is produced by a chemical compound in their urine called 2-AP. When a binturong urinates, the liquid soaks its feet and fuzzy tails, leaving a scent trail that lets other binturongs know their presence and perhaps their sex, since the compound is stronger in males. Though animals may smell like snacks, we don't recommend feeding wildlife—especially captive animals.
The chemical compound 2-AP is the same substance that gives fresh popcorn its yummy smell, according to the scientists. When a popcorn kernel is heated, the proteins and sugars create a chemical reaction that in turn forms 2-AP. In the case of the binturong, researchers think the compound may be produced when the animal's urine reacts with bacteria in the animal's gut, skin, or fur, or with other microorganisms. So don't get too excited next time you think you smell microwave popcorn at the office. Maybe a binturong just left its calling card in the break room.
Binturongs aren't the only beasts that smell of snack food. Paws of the domestic dog have a rep for smelling like corn chips. Corn chips, anyone? Domestic dogs may have bacteria in their paws that emit a snack-food aroma. The odor is most likely caused either by yeast or a bacterium called proteus or pseudomonas, any of which would "do well in the damp, airless, unventilated areas between dog toes," says Nicholas Dodman, a veterinary behaviorist at Tufts University in Massachusetts. The scent is no cause for alarm, Dodman adds, considering that human skin hosts a plethora of bacteria, but if the smell gets extremely strong you should visit the vet. Otherwise just enjoy the corny goodness and try not to take a bite: They are nacho toes.
Ants love candy, so it's only fitting that the aptly named citronella ant, found throughout the United States, should smell like this lovely confection. John Acorn, a naturalist at the University of Alberta, says via email that these and many other ant species defend themselves by biting and spraying formic acid, a colorless liquid that plays a role in many ants' chemical reactions. Formic acid tastes and smells like citric acid, hence the lemon or citrus smell they give off.
After all these nibbles, you'll need a mint. The white admiral butterfly of the northeastern U.S. and Canada seems to smell like wintergreen—a group of aromatic plants—for a reason. A white admiral butterfly alights on daisies. The insect excretes a minty smell in its poop. The butterfly—as well as another species, the viceroy—acquire the scent from feeding on wintergreen flowers, says Katy Prudic, an entomologist at the University of Arizona. How is the smell excreted? "They poop it on you," she says.
Then there's Australia's peppermint stick insect, a four-inch (10-centimeter) long bug that, when threatened, sprays a noxious liquid that smells like peppermint. Don't feel bad. We know people who emit way worse when they're nervous.