Teen Nabbed For Smuggling a Tiger Cub Just Got Six Months in Prison
The incident highlights the growing trade in illegal wildlife.
A U.S. customs inspector noticed something suspicious one early morning last August: a cat-like object lying on the passenger side floor of a Chevy Camaro crossing into California from Mexico.
Court documents show that Eriberto Paniagua, then 21, who was sitting in the passenger seat, told customs that the creature was “just a cat.”
As it turned out, the tan-colored animal with black stripes was more exotic than your average house cat. It was later identified by veterinarians with the San Diego Zoo Safari Park as a four-to-five-week-old Bengal tiger that was in “good health overall” and would begin teething in a couple of weeks. They named him “Moka” and he’s now on display.
On February 20 Luis Valencia—the 18-year-old driver of