Valley no stranger to narco pets, unwanted tigers

The relative calm of the past few months in Matamoros has given way to violence over the past few weeks.

Residents took to social media sites like Youtube and Twitter to document the violence surrounding their homes and Tuesday TMs gunfight was no exception.

But what was out of the ordinary was news of gunmen storming a circus in Matamoros and taking off with a caged white Bengal tiger.

Whether it happened or not, is unclear at this time, but there are several instances of cartel members keeping exotic animals as pets.

"We brought them here the two lions, Jerry Stones said. We had a male and a female. We named them Mario and Juanita from marijuana, as in the marijuana drug bust."

Stones takes care of the animals at Brownsville's Gladys Porter Zoo.

He said Juanita, the 12-year-old female lion, arrived at the zoo about ten years ago.

"They busted a drug dealer up by Indian Lake and when they busted him he had a bunch of marijuana in a Winnebago, he said. And right next to the Winnebago was this cage with two lions in it."

Stones has been with the zoo for 41 years, in that time he says he has seen it all.

He said he also knows it is not just the cartels taking on wild animals as pets, but ordinary people also buy them until they realize taking care of them requires more than they can handle.

"Tigers, lions, pumas and bobcats, hundreds of call and I've turned them all down, he said. The only ones that I have accepted were ones from the federal government."

Stones said of the six tigers on display at the zoo, four of them were rescued from homes around the Rio Grande Valley.

"There are so many tigers in captivity, thousands and thousands of them, and we cant seem to get people to understand you don TMt want a tiger as a pet, he concluded.