Big Cat Rescue founder and Netflix’s "Tiger King" star Carole Baskin clawed at Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz Wednesday, accusing them of bearing some responsibility for the missing tiger that has horrified Houston residents since Mother’s Day.
"We had to start from scratch and we did that in January. We now have 167 members of the house that have co-sponsored it," Baskin told Fox News of the Big Cat Public Safety Act she and other big cat enthusiasts have been pushing for years.
"That means when it comes up for a hearing, my vote’s yes. And then in the Senate, we’ve got 20 bipartisan senators who said when it comes up for a vote ‘I’ll vote yes.' But Texas senators Cruz and Cornyn absolutely should. Our own senator here in Florida has not signed on and he absolutely should.
The "Dancing with the Stars" performer said legislators have received "literally tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of calls, emails, texts and tweets" from Baskin's support group and others working with the reality star on their bill.
"They have refused to sign on as co-sponsors because they say it’s a state’s rights issue," said Baskin. "It shouldn’t be monitored by the federal government. This absolutely shows why it is a federal issue."
The act, which saw some bipartisan support in the House, is also supported by animal rights activists. It would crack down on the breeding and ownership of exotic pets like lions and tigers and would have made it illegal to keep one as a house pet.
Baskin said her bill would have prevented the entire spectacle from taking place simply off the strength that it "would have been illegal for the people using that cub to dump it into private ownership."
"That’s why we need our federal bill because each state has its own laws and the states are not equipped to handle this sort of thing," Baskin explained. "The off-duty officer who showed up first to the scene and had the gun drawn on the cat, I mean, they’re not trained in how to deal with loose tigers and they shouldn’t have to be. They shouldn’t be in backyards or basements."
Neither senator’s office responded immediately to Fox News requests for comment, although Cruz tweeted out a gif of the Tiger King himself, Joe Exotic, doing a double take in response to Baskin’s remarks.
The Houston tiger has been missing since Sunday, when viral video emerged showing an off-duty deputy with his gun drawn, squaring off with the big cat on a suburban street in a bizarre showdown before another man dragged it into an SUV and fled.
Police later arrested Victor Hugo Cuevas, who was out on bail in connection with a 2017 murder charge. But they didn’t find the tiger.
Baskin said the fact the tiger remains on the loose makes her uneasy.
"I am really worried about the fact that it’s still on the loose because clearly, the people who have been managing this cat up until this point are not people who make good decisions," she said. "That cat looked like it had been out there in the front yard for a while before anybody even came looking for it so I am extremely worried about what’s going to happen to that cat or what that cat is going to do to somebody given the fact that nobody is turning them in."
Added Baskin: "I can’t believe that nobody knows where the cat is. Surely, somebody knows where this cat is. They’re just not making the right decision and calling the authorities to let them know."
Cuevas’ lawyer Michael Elliott has said the tiger, named India, does not belong to his client and indicated that it was being sheltered somewhere. He said he told police it was with an exotic animal trader named "Deandre," or just "D" for short.
But the animal remained unaccounted for as of Wednesday.
Cuevas was released on bond again Wednesday in connection with the latest incident.
"We make it really easy for people to send an email, call or tweet their member of congress at BigCatAct.com," Baskin added.