Tiger Cub Confiscated During New Mexico Shooting Investigation Sent to Colorado Sanctuary

Tiger Cub Confiscated During New Mexico Shooting Investigation Sent to Colorado Sanctuary


An approximately 4-month-old tiger cub presently being referred to as "Duke" was rescued after Albuquerque police officers responded to a call about gunshots fired. The call led officers to a convenience store where a bystander had been struck by a bullet. Soon after, police heard a gunshot coming from a nearby mobile home where they located and arrested an armed suspect.

Penned up in a dog crate, the tiger cub weighing just over 20 pounds was also discovered in the residence. From there, he was taken to the ABQ BioPark Zoo until a more fitting facility could be located.

Big Cat Sanctuaries

"During his month-long stay at the BioPark, Duke received a healthy diet of meat to support his growth and development. He gained over five pounds and can no longer fit in the carrier that brought him to the BioPark," ABQ stated. "The BioPark's specially trained animal care staff spent hours with Duke every day for socialization and training. Duke has perfected some of his tiger manners, which will prepare him to socialize with other tigers at his new home. He also learned how to voluntarily enter his new, much larger crate for the trip to Colorado."

ABQ BioPark Zoo

Founded in 1927, the 64-acre zoo was previously known as the Rio Grande Zoo. The grounds include an Africa exhibit, an Australia exhibit, the Cat Walk, and a herpetology exhibit. The cute cub was reportedly unable to stay there because his genetic makeup is said to be unknown.

"While the BioPark is dedicated to the care of all animals, which includes rescue work like this case, its priority is to prevent extinction. Because Duke's genetic makeup is unknown, he does not fit with BioPark's commitment to Malayan tiger conservation," ABQ BioPark explained.

The Wildlife Animal Sanctuary

Duke arrived at his new home at The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado, over the weekend. ABQ did note that he will not be put on display there until he's reached his adult size. Just in case you're wondering how Duke got his name, Albuquerque's nickname is The Duke City and it just seemed fitting.

For general reference, it's illegal to import or possess most wildlife and exotic species in New Mexico without a proper permit, and tigers may only be possessed by a permitted zoo there. Just weeks ago a bill restricting the private ownership of big cats in the U.S. passed in the Senate by unanimous consent. Known as the Big Cat Public Safety Act, it would keep big cats out of the hands of private citizens desiring to own them as pets while limiting their exposure to public petting and photo opportunities. It's a tremendous step toward the more ethical treatment of exotic animals in this country.

Rebecca West

Rebecca is a writer and editor for both print and digital with a love for travel, history, archaeology, trivia, and architecture. Much of her writing has focused on human and animal health and welfare. A life-long pet owner, she has taken part in fostering dogs for military members during deployment and given many rescued and surrendered dogs the forever home they always wanted. Her two favorite canine quotes are, "Be the kind of person your dog thinks you are," and "My dog rescued me."

Back to blog