Real Tiger Cub Found in Luggage With Stuffed Toys
The owner of the suitcase was a Thai woman flying from Thailand to Iran, officials say.
The tiger was discovered when her oversize checked bag was sent through X-ray and security officials spotted what appeared to be a live animal inside, says TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring group.
The 31-year-old woman was arrested, and faces a $1,300 fine on two wildlife smuggling charges, police say. She reportedly denied the cub was hers, saying another passenger asked her to carry it.
The cub was sent to a wildlife conservation center in Bangkok. He is believed to be about 3 months old.
"As of today, he looks better and can walk a little now," Chaiyaporn Chareesaeng, head of the Wildlife Health Unit at the Department of National Parks' Wildlife and Plant Conservation Center, tells The Associated Press.
A DNA test was conducted to help determine the animal's origin.
Officials say the cub could have fetched about $3,200 on the black market in Iran, where tigers are prized as exotic pets.
Other tigers are not that lucky: Poachers sell their skins and body parts for medical and souvenir markets, mostly in China.
"We applaud all agencies that came together to uncover this brazen smuggling attempt," says Chris R. Shepherd, TRAFFIC's deputy regional director for Southeast Asia, in a statement.
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Photo, Sakchai Lalit, AP