Whatever Happened To Tyga's Illegal Tiger Cub?

"Rack City" rapper Tyga (real name Michael Ray Nguyen-Stevenson) allegedly procured a pet tiger in 2014, and he clued in the whole world by posting photos and videos with the cute cub on Instagram. Here's the thing: It's illegal to own a tiger in California, where Kylie Jenner's ex resided at the time. Tyga claimed the cub didn't actually belong to him, but according to TMZ, he faced "misdemeanor charges of possession of a prohibited species ... punishable by up to six months in jail." 

Plenty of celebs have owned illegal pets, but Tyga has gained a reputation for allegedly treating pets poorly. When the dust settled, he wasn't charged with anything in connection with the tiger, but he did get rid of his feline friend. 

Years have passed since Tyga's troubles, but big cats are front and center in the news again, thanks to the hit Netflix true-crime docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness. It begs the question: Whatever happened to Tyga's Bengal tiger, and what does the cub look like now?

Did Tyga purchase his cub from Tiger King Joe Exotic?

Tiger King stars Joe Exotic and Doc Antle are known for their collection of big cats — and their extensive ties with celebrities. However, Tyga reportedly turned to Nicholas Lee Bishop, a.k.a. "Nick the Wrangler," to allegedly purchase his tiger cub.

According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, "Bishop initially told investigators he paid $1,500 for the cub 'at the request of' Tyga in March 2014." Bishop reportedly "used a fake name and falsified documents" to buy the feline in Indiana, and then he drove the tiger back to his own home in Nevada, where Tyga allegedly picked it up. The rapper then purportedly drove the animal back to his own pad in Calabasas, Calif. Bishop also reportedly told law enforcement he and Tyga built cages for the pet at Tyga's home.

According to the Sentinel, court records revealed that Bishop later changed his story, claiming "he had already been looking for a tiger, and that after he purchased one to keep as a pet, Tyga contacted him and offered him $30,000 to keep the tiger at Tyga's house for several weeks." According to the New York Daily News, Tyga told investigators the big cats he posed with on social media were "hired from contract companies" and claimed he "was out of the country" when the illegal tiger was at his home. 

Tyga reportedly wanted his friends to 'get rid of it'

Whether you believe that Tyga was playing for keeps or just trying to borrow a big cat, Nicholas Lee Bishop claimed the rapper kept the tiger for months. According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Tyga allegedly grew nervous about getting in trouble and supposedly asked friends to "get rid of the tiger." 

In April 2014, Tyga reportedly gave the tiger to a friend, but after the tiger allegedly "briefly escaped" the friend's home, the animal was moved to the home of two brothers who also lived in California. When police located and rescued the tiger, the big cat was reportedly "confined to a dog crate in a backyard shed." Tyga wasn't charged with anything, but Bishop was incarcerated on "federal charges he was involved in the illegal sale and transportation" of the animal, per the New York Daily News.

Some say Tyga actually tried to do right by the tiger. Sources told TMZ that the rapper "took good care of the tiger ... didn't realize it was illegal to own ... and as soon as he realized, he gave it to a sanctuary."

The sanctuary had a thing or two to say about that.

Where is Tyga's tiger now?

Tyga's tiger is now living at the Lions, Tigers & Bears animal rescue in California. He has since been named Maverick and weighs more than 400 pounds, according to the rescue's website.

Tyga has allegedly had no contact with the animal rescue since Maverick arrived. In fact, Lions, Tigers & Bears founder and director Bobbi Brink slammed the rapper to TMZ, claiming Tyga has not paid a dime to help cover the tiger's expenses. The rescue relies on donations to care for its animals, and for a tiger as large as Maverick, the grocery bill alone totals "more than $10k a year," TMZ reported, plus "vet costs, flea control, and general maintenance."

The site said Maverick, born in September 2013, has been living at the rescue since he was about nine months old. "Maverick's story is a perfect example of what happens when people decide they want a wild animal for a pet," the organization said. "Sure, they're cute for a few months, but then the reality of the situation sets in. Wild instincts begin to emerge, they become hard to handle and pose an extreme risk to the community, leaving the animal to face an uncertain future. Exotic animals are NOT pets!"

We're glad Maverick is doing well. Perhaps Tyga should consider rebranding with a more appropriate moniker. Goldfish? Ant Farm? How about something real simple like House Plant?

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A post shared by Lions Tigers & Bears (@lionstigers_andbears) on Mar 15, 2020 at 1:19pm PDT