A tiny male Bengal Tiger cub that was being smuggled into the United States is receiving care at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The young Tiger was confiscated by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers, who discovered the cub while inspecting a vehicle entering the U.S. from Mexico on August 23.
Once the cub was safely at the Safari Park, veterinary staff performed a thorough health exam 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,” said Dr. Jim Oosterhuis, principal veterinarian.
“I estimate the cub to be between 5 and 6 weeks old, and he weighs in at a little over 6 pounds,” Dr. Oosterhuis said. “He has teeth coming in, so he’ll be teething in the next week or two—so, animal care staff will have a little chore getting him through that.”
The cub is being cared for in the Safari Park’s nursery, and once his location became known, hundreds of eager fans gathered outside the nursery window hoping to see the tiny Tiger. He is now viewable most of the day, except when he is taking a ‘catnap,’ according to his keepers. The cub receives a bottle six times a day with a special formula made for exotic carnivores and is thriving under the watchful eyes of his care team. He is steadily gaining weight and now weighs more than seven pounds. His teeth are coming in and he’s chewing on everything in sight—stuffed toys, blankets, even his paws.
Guests watching the cub through the nursery window might see keepers using a wet cotton ball to give the cub a bath. This procedure mimics how wild mother Tigers bathe their cubs after feedings.
See more photos of the Tiger cub below.
San Diego Zoo Global will continue to provide care and sanctuary for the cub until U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials determine his permanent home.
The U.S. is a party in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international agreement commonly known as CITES. This treaty regulates trade in endangered species of animals and plants, as well as products from those animals and plants. For all endangered species listed by CITES, any form of trade is illegal without a permit. Additional information on importing and exporting endangered species is available at cbp.gov.
Bengal Tigers are native to India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal. Only about 2,500 individuals remain in the wild. Threats include poaching for the sale of body parts on the black market, and human-Tiger conflict.