Police in Albuquerque New Mexico recently found a very young tiger cub in a crate. The cat was found after officers received reports of shots fired. The discovery and the steps needed to be taken for the cub highlight the evils of the exotic animal trade.
Albuquerque police responded to shots fired recently and followed a blood trail. The trail led them to the cub, held in a dog crate. State wildlife authorities were called and took charge of the young feline. The shooting incident remains under investigation. The susoected cause has not been announced.
The young tiger was taken to the ABQ BioPark but cannot remain there. The zoo is located along the Rio Grande River and houses about 900 animals. It also has an aquarium and a botanical garden. The cub’s genetics are unknown and the zoo apparently needs to focus on one tiger they already have.
Zoos try to be repositories for purebred specimens of species. This is to preserve distinct species from extinction. Most tigers in private hands are “generic.” That means they are offspring of mixed species matings and not strictly from one species.
The cub has been medically examined, treated, and put on a correct diet. Staff are trying to socialize the cub who will need to be placed in a sanctuary to be with other tiger. Tigers are an iconic species to humans who just can’t seem to leave them alone. There are probably fewer than 5,000 remaining in the wild. They are challenged daily by human behaviors. Many more live in zoos and sanctuaries. Far too many are “pets. ” Texas alone may have as many tigers as there are in the wild. It is still legal to own them as pets. Apparently, a number of people flout whatever ownership laws there are.
According to the Houston Chronicle permits to own a tiger are pretty easy to get. One has to simply prove the ability to safely house and care for the animal. Apparently, no one even bothers to do that. The paper said state authorities had 47 permits on file outside of zoos, sanctuaries and other logical places. Yet no one seems to think there are fewer than 2,000 tigers in the state, maybe as many as 5,000. Texas is probably second only to India in tiger population.
Animal rights groups are working to tighten ownership laws and fight abuses.
Meanwhile, the exotic animal trade takes its toll on tigers and many other animals. It is said that the trade in wild animals, which very often involves stealing young from their mothers, is a massive trade worldwide on a par with drug and gun-running. Sometimes both (or all three) are involved as drug runners seem to like to have “prestige” animals.
Drug lord Pablo Escobar illegally procured hippos. Those animals are causing trouble in Colombia. Not all the seizures necessariy relate to drug and gun running. “Tiger King” Joe Exotic went to prison for abusing and killing tigers in his care. Authorities in Mexico recently shut down Black Jaguar White Tiger a website run by a man allegedly mistreating the animals in his care. Cheetahs, threatend with extinction, are at increased risk because of theft of cubs as “prestige pets.”