Astonished Customs Officers Search A Car And Find A Terrified Baby Tiger Hidden Under A Seat

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At the end of August, American customs officials posted at the Mexican border apprehended a driver who was trying to smuggle a Bengal Tiger cub across the border into the United States.

 

Source: US Attorney's Office

 

The driver, an 18-year-old man, had first tried to convince the officers that the tiger was just a normal cat, before admitting that he was a wild big cat. He told customs that he had bought the cub for $300 from a man in the Mexican city of Tijuana, who had a fully-grown tiger of his own who he walked on a leash on the city's beaches.

 

For trying to smuggle a creature from an endangered species into America, the young man could pay a heavy price. The crime carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years, as well as a $250,000 fine.

 

Source: AP/Julie Watson

 

Unfortunately, despite their status as a protected species, Bengal Tigers and other big cats are often sold on the black market as pets, before ending up in roadside zoos and similar places once they become adults and more difficult to control. Lisa Wathne, a captive wildlife specialist for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), explained to The Dodo:

 

The abuse begins when the cubs are prematurely and forcibly separated from their adult mothers — usually during or immediately after birth — depriving them of normal biological and behavioral development. Rather than experiencing the warmth of their mother and interacting with their siblings, the cubs' lives are dictated by the demands of the paying public.

 

According to a study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), there are more tigers in captivity in the United States (5000) than living freely in the wild (less than 3000).

 

Source: Facebook/Connexion Del Rio

 

While legislation is becoming more and more strict, animal trafficking continues to prosper in America. Many people see big cats as exotic pets or even 'accessories' more than the majestic, wild creatures they really are. These creatures flourish in their natural habitat, but sadly face not only the risk of being kidnapped for the black market, but also because of humans destroying their wild homes or hunting them for sport.

 

The baby tiger rescued by the authorities was taken to San Diego Zoo in California, where he will receive the best care they possibly can, before being sent to a nature reserve when he reaches adulthood. Sadly, because the little feline was captured so young and never socialized with members of his own species, he will never be able to be released back into the wild.

 

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