An escaped pet tiger named Deborah spurred a massive deployment of police, firefighters and other first responders in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila, authorities said.
Apolonio Armenta, the Coahuila delegate of Mexico's environmental protection agency, Profepa, told Efe that alarmed residents began calling police late Wednesday night with reports about a tiger roaming the streets of Saltillo, the state capital.
"It was a tigress between 8 and 12 months old that some thieves allowed to escape when they broke into the office of the pet's owner, attorney Rodolfo Richards," Armenta said.
Richards eventually managed to recapture the 50-kilo (110-pound) Bengal tiger.
Deborah was only a month old when the attorney bought her from a pet shop in nearby Monterrey, Armenta said, adding that while Richards has paperwork confirming his ownership of the animal, he failed to register the tiger with Profepa as a pet.
Richards now faces up to 1.2 million pesos ($85,000) in fines if he cannot explain to Profepa's satisfaction why he didn't register Deborah.
Mexicans are alllowed to keep exotic animals as pets provided the comply with Profepa regulations, which include providing the animal with an appropriate environment and ensuring it does not become a threat to public safety.
Such animals are "relatively quiet, if they live with humans as cubs, you make sure that they don't suffer from stress or hunger and you give them medical attention to keep them healthy," Armenta said.
Six months ago, he noted, a mountain lion and a tiger were dumped in front of the Profepa offfice in Coahuila, while army troops later captured an African lion in the town of Nava.
Those three animals are now in the Monclova zoo.