San Diego

Bengal Tiger Cub Rescued from Smugglers, Now Lives in Alpine

The smugglers were sentenced to six months in prison

A six-week-old hybrid Bengal tiger cub named Moka was rescued from two smugglers in 2017 and now has a permanent home at Lions, Tigers, and Bears Sanctuary in Alpine.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection seized the cub at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry last August when smugglers tried to pass it off as a house cat.

Moka was taken to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park shortly after for emergency surgery for intestinal adhesions.

“These weren’t naïve teenagers who wanted a pet tiger,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. “These defendants were part of an established cross-border wildlife smuggling business.”

“They do not have any concern about the safety of these animals and maintaining them in their natural habitat,” said David Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego. “We are glad that Moka has been afforded an opportunity to grow and flourish in a safe environment.”

The smugglers, Luis Eudoro Valencia and Eriberto Paniagua, were both sentenced to six months in prison earlier this year.

Moka was transferred to Alpine sanctuary on June 3.

Bengal tigers are an endangered species.

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