SAN DIEGO — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers rescued an illegally-trafficked tiger cub from a traveler who attempted to bring it into California from Mexico early Wednesday morning.

On August 23, at about 1:30 a.m., an 18-year-old man arrived at the Otay Mesa port of entry driving a 2017 Chevy Camaro, with a 21-year-old man in the passenger seat. The CBP officer conducting the inspection referred the vehicle and occupants for further inspection. 

CBP officers searched the vehicle and discovered a tiger cub lying on the floor of the front passenger side. Officers removed the tiger cub from the vehicle and placed it in an animal crate until agents from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service responded to the border crossing.  

“CBP officers are often faced with unusual situations,” said Pete Flores, director of field operations for CBP in San Diego. “The CBP officers at the Otay Mesa port of entry met the challenge head on and assisted in preserving the life of this endangered species.”

The driver, a U.S. citizen, was arrested and later transported to Metropolitan Correctional Center to await arraignment. Agents from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service took custody of the tiger cub and are working with the San Diego Zoo Global to ensure its well-being.

More than 20 years ago, customs agents working at the San Ysidro port of entry intercepted an alleged smuggling attempt to move a tiger cub out of California and into Mexico.  The tiger, later named “Blanca”, resided for many years at the San Diego Safari Park.

The United States is a party in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, commonly known as CITES. This treaty regulates trade in endangered species of wildlife, plants and their products.

International trade in species listed by CITES is illegal unless authorized by permit.  Additional information on importing and exporting endangered species is available on www.cbp.gov, including here.