Yesterday, a trafficked tiger cub was discovered inside a box by Mexico’s national guard in Mérida’s international airport.
After being assessed by veterinarians, the cub was transported to Mérida’s Centenario Zoo where it will stay, at least for the time being.
Despite initial reports that the feline was a jaguar, it turns out that the specimen is a young Bengal tiger, native to the Indian sub-continent.
The smuggler has not been named, but authorities say that the individual is now in custody and awaits further interrogation.
The discovery of the young tiger cub is not an isolated incident, as a staggering amount of exotic animals have been confiscated over the past few months.
For instance, in November, a land turtle was found inside a cardboard box within a suitcase at the Mérida international airport.
In December, Mexico’s national guard agents stationed at Mérida’s airport secured eight live pheasants bound for Guadalajara.
But the problem is not limited to the Yucatán Peninsula.
Last February, members of the national guard in Mexico City secured 75 iguanas, 34 turtles, a boa constrictor snake, and a tarantula, all of which were being smuggled in four pieces of luggage.
A lucrative black market for exotic felines continues across Latin America, where they are used mostly as pets at private zoos.
Conservationists are expressing concern that even though many smuggled animals are being successfully rescued, many others may be falling through security cracks due to corruption.