Three tiger cubs are found in a box infested with larvae
In March of this year a strange box arrived at the airport in Beirut, Lebanon. It had no labels explaining what was inside or any information about its origins or destination. It sat in a corner of a warehouse at the airport for a full week without anyone claiming it, until a judge finally ordered it to be opened.
What they found inside was not what anyone had expected…
In the cramped space just 16 inches high were three live Siberian tiger cubs.
They're an endangered species. These three babies were starving, dehydrated, and covered with their own excrement. But perhaps worse, they were also suffering from a terrible maggot infestation.
The poor cubs had been locked up in terrible conditions and left unvaccinated. The animal rescue organization Animals Lebanon was fortunately permitted to move them to a safe place, treat them, and investigate their situation further. Only one of them had had a microchip inserted, despite them all being required to have one under international law governing endangered species in captivity.
Their paws were red and sore due to the urine that had accumulated at the bottom of the box. Since the box wasn’t tall enough for them to stand up, their legs were horribly cramped. All three had diarrhea and other awful digestive problems.
Eventually it was discovered that the tiger cubs came from a Ukrainian zoo. They were on their way to the zoo in Damascus, Syria, but due to lack of documentation — and possibly the Syrian civil war — the box they were in had been held up. Their mother had given birth to at least a dozen cubs since 2012, nine of which had been sold to "private/undisclosed buyers." Who knows if they were treated any better...
Although they're being cared for by a wild animal vet and have improved a lot, the rescue effort isn’t over yet. The Ukrainian zoo is suing to get them back. "Big cats can be worth tens of thousands of dollars on the black market. The owner is fighting to get them back. And we are fighting for the tigers," Animals Lebanon explained in a Facebook post.
No one knows what will happen to them in the end. But the rescue organization is doing everything they can to send them to a sanctuary so they can live peaceful lives with other members of their species. If the director of the zoo in the Ukraine succeeds, however, they could be shipped back and then sold off to exotic pet buyers.
Check out Animals Lebanon's video: