An unmarked wooden box, only 16 inches tall, was left unattended at the Beirut airport in Lebanon. Finally, after 7 days some workers decided to open it up.
Inside, they were shocked to find three endangered Siberian tiger cubs crammed into a tiny space. They were covered in feces and urine and were starved. They were just 4 months old and infested with hundreds of maggots.
"Nothing indicated that the box contained tigers or even live animals, and there were no details of a shipper or receiver," rescue group Animals Lebanon (AL) wrote.
The cubs were being transferred from a zoo in Ukraine to a zoo in Syria but had gotten delayed. AL decided to petition a judge, allowing the animals to be released into their care. The judge realized the cubs would ultimately die if they were left in such bad conditions, so he put them in the care of the rescue group.
"The tigers did not have names," Jason Mier, executive directior of AL said. "[They] were instead referred to by a code." So Mier and his team named the cubs after people who have helped animals through his organization. "May is the most confident female and the first to eat and explore new enrichment items," he said. "Tania follows May to look at new things; she seems like May's sidekick."
THREE baby tigers stuck at Beirut Airport for SEVEN days in SHOCKING conditions! Please READ & SHARE to help baby tigers! We have been working with Ministry of Agriculture for years - the animal protection and welfare law, joining CITES, and recently a decision to stop the trafficking of big cats and ban them from being kept as exotic pets or in private zoos. Despite all of this, photos of lions, tigers keep showing up on social media and more reports of them being in private hands, and others coming into our care. As soon as we were alerted about the shipment of baby tigers arriving to Beirut Airport, we alerted the Ministry of Agriculture and Customs. These endangered animals landed on Tuesday, 7 March at 7:00 pm. Ministry staff went to the scene to the airport to check the shipment. Owner presented paperwork showing that these baby tigers are going to Syria and not Lebanon and he presented CITES permits for Syria. He also said that their flight is next day at 6 PM with ShamWings. Three days passed and baby tigers still stuck in their so called crate. ShamWings employee stated to us that they don't have ventilated planes for live animal transport. Seven days passed and tigers remained in a closed box - The welfare of these animals was in question and there were serious concerns about their conditions locked in that box. We had to act and we went to Judge of urgent matters of Baabda Mr. Hasan Hamdan asking for immediate confiscation of these tigers to help them survive. Tigers are now safe thanks to Judge's order. At the airport, many people expressed their shock once they saw the crate and how the animals were being transported. It is not acceptable in any sense to transport any animal in such box! Everything from the basic construction of the cage to inability to clean or have absorbent bedding, to inappropriate size, and no proper installation for food or water bowl. The crate was too small for the animals to even stand, and the bottom of the crate is covered in hundreds of maggots. Both CITES permits state that the permits are only valid if the transport conditions comply with IATA Live Animal Regulations, and this cage certainly does not comply, therefore the permits are not considered valid and should never have been accepted in Ukraine or allowed further transport. Thanks to the cooperation of Ministry of Agriculture, customs and airport security, we were able to highlight this case and prevent these animals from suffering further at the airport. NOW WHAT IS THE FATE OF THESE BABY TIGERS?Posted by Animals Lebanon on Friday, March 17, 2017
Now, all three tiger cubs are recovering from their journey and playing with all the toys they can imagine.
"Their paw pads were raw and red from being covered in urine, as were their back legs and thighs," AL wrote. "They had not received the proper vaccinations so all three were vaccinated. Only one tiger was found to have a microchip, though documents state that all three should have been microchipped."
Unfortunately for these tiger cubs, are not out of danger yet. They are still trying to have the tigers confiscated from the zoo permanently, so there is a chance these poor guys will end up in bad conditions.
"Big cats can be worth tens of thousands of dollars on the black market. The owner is fighting to get them back," AL wrote. "And we are fighting for the tigers."
*There has been an update. The three tiger cubs that were smuggled through Lebanon last March have now been moved to a bigger enclosure 😍
Happy Update! The three tiger cubs that were smuggled through Lebanon last March have now been moved to a bigger enclosure 😍 To read the full story - http://www.animalslebanon.org/news/baby-tigers-stuck-at-beirut-airport-freed-after-judge-orderPosted by Animals Lebanon on Tuesday, April 3, 2018
To help AL stand up for animals like these tiger cubs, you can make a donation to them directly.
Sadly, the smuggling of exotic animals has become a status symbol - if you're not afraid of breaking the law.
Another trio of rare animals became famous when they were rescued from the home of a drug dealer. The kingpin had been keeping a pet lion, tiger and bear locked up in a basement for years.
They were taken to Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary were their rescuers realized something unique about the animals: they were friends.
At first the sanctuary tried to separate them, fearing their instincts would take over and lead to fighting, but after seeing how dejected they became they reunited them.
Baloo the bear, Leo the Lion and Shere Khan the tiger have been viewed millions of times on the internet now and are undeniably happier than they were. Sadly Leo passed away earlier this year.
If you are interested in learning more about the efforts made to rescue big cats, I'd love to introduce you to one of my favorite sites, Big Cat Rescue. I have learned a lot about these beautiful beasts and they have some amazing live cams.