US & Canada

Teenager caught smuggling tiger cub into US from Mexico

The recovering tiger cub in San Diego zoo Image copyright San Diego zoo
Image caption The tiger is now recovering in San Diego zoo

A Californian teenager has been arrested after he tried to smuggle a male Bengal tiger cub across the US border from Mexico.

Luis Eudoro Valencia, 18, was charged with smuggling the animal into the US after officials found it lying on the floor of his vehicle.

He was caught at the Otay Mesa border crossing in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Agents from the US Fish & Wildlife Service took custody of the animal.

Image copyright US Customs and Border Protection
Image caption The tiger cub was handed over to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park who are taking care of it

The teenager says he bought the cub for $300 (£235) from someone who was walking an adult tiger along the streets of Tijuana in Mexico.

Vets at San Diego zoo carried out a thorough health check on the cub and determined that he was in good health.

"His heart and lungs sound good, his blood work looked great and, since he took a bottle from us, it's a good sign he'll continue to thrive," Dr Jim Oosterhuis, was quoted as saying on the zoo's website.

"I estimate the cub to be between five and six weeks old, and he weighs in at a little over six pounds," Dr. Oosterhuis said. "He has teeth coming in, so he'll be teething in the next week or two."

The cub is now being supervised around the clock by zoo staff and is being housed away from other animals in an isolated area.

All species of tigers are protected under the Endangered Species Act - and importing an endangered species into the United States requires a permit.

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