New documents shed light on illegal tigers in captivity

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Police rescued a tiger in Phoenix, and they say a man was selling it for $25,000 on social media. But is this the same tiger that authorities in New Mexico were looking in 2022

KOB 4 took that very question to New Mexico Game and Fish, and went through recently released documents, and audio recordings that shed some light on this bizarre investigation.

We now know the search for an illegal tiger in New Mexico started on Snapchat. 

Recently obtained investigation documents from New Mexico Game and Fish reveal Geotagging data – from a Snapchat story – led investigators to this northwest Albuquerque home, and Carlos Gidding.

“So, you guys are just looking for the tiger, basically? We’re looking for information on the tiger. He’s not here anymore, man. He’s gone.”

But the Snapchat account did not belong to Gidding, and after news of the missing tiger went public, tips started to come in.

A recorded phone call with Game and Fish investigators reveal someone got a drunk call from friends claiming a tiger was at a party in the International District:

“APD forwarded us – said they got a tip about the possible whereabouts of the tiger we’ve been looking for. Yeah, um – I don’t know – one of my stupid friends said that, but then they said they were lying.”

She also said:

“It’s not even in Albuquerque, no more. It’s in Arizona.”

Investigators also received a couple tips about tiger carcasses on the side of Arizona highways.

Another tip said an 18-year-old in Hatch, New Mexico had possession of a tiger. Another tip said a tiger was attacking horses at night on a New Mexico reservation.

But the people closest to the tiger – and connected to the Snapchat pictures –  say it came from two Mexican males who didn’t speak English. They say they drove a black SUV with Chihuahua Mexico plates in south Albuquerque.

But is the tiger cub in Phoenix the one that has been alluded game and fish in New Mexico? They say probably not. 

Now there are at least three illegal tigers in the southwest:

  • The one APD stumbled upon is now at the Albuquerque zoo and has been named Duke. 
  • The one Phoenix police tracked down is now with Arizona Game and Fish. 
  • The third – if alive – is expected to be larger than the two already recovered.

New Mexico Game and Fish is still investigating.