Two tiny tiger and jaguar cubs were discovered at the Tijuana International Airport near the U.S.-Mexico border this week, stashed inside wooden boxes, authorities in Mexico confirmed.
A bulletin Tuesday released by federal police in Mexico said the cubs – a Bengal tiger and black jaguar – were each found inside a wooden box in an area of the airport where packages move through daily.
Authorities opened the boxes as part of an operation seeking packages containing illegal drugs and other items suspected of being trafficked.
Authorities said the cubs hailed from Mexico but the boxes for each animal contained no documentation about where they came from or where they were going. The tigers were being transported against the country’s general wildlife law.
At this point, it is unclear where the cubs will be taken.
In an unrelated but similar case last August, a 6-week-old Bengal tiger cub was discovered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in south San Diego County.
The cub was stashed in the back of a car driven by Southern California resident Luis Eudoro Valencia, 18. Valencia was entering the U.S. from Mexico with the cub, which he initially claimed was just a house cat, and gave CBP a sales receipt for the animal that stated false details.
Valencia’s attorney said the teen wanted to keep the cub as a pet but prosecutors said Valencia’s cell phone data showed he was running an animal smuggling business and had boasted about making thousands of dollars by selling wildlife.
This past February, Valencia was sentenced to six months in prison for the smuggling of the Bengal tiger cub.
That tiger cub – later named “Moka” – was taken into the custody of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and, eventually, went on to live at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
The Safari Park continues to care for Moka. Earlier this month, the park said Moka had undergone emergency surgery after showing increasing signs of ill health likely related to his care, or lack thereof, in the feline’s early life.