Report: Tiger trafficking is big in Texas

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Report: Tiger trafficking is big in Texas

05:34 PM CST on Tuesday, November 25, 2008

By Angela Kocherga / 11 News

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BROWNSVILLE, Texas—Tigers are status symbols for drug traffickers say authorities.

It’s hard to know how much of the tiger trade is illegal, but it’s clear Texas is a supplier.

To get an idea of the problem all you have to do is check out the new additions at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville.

The tiger population didn’t grow as a result of a special breeding program. In fact, many of the cubs came from a Wal-Mart parking lot where they were discovered.

“When they came in they were just little bitty guys,” said Jerry Stones who works with the zoo.

“The vehicle they wanted to put them into had Mexico plates and the man didn’t speak English. He knew they were going across the river,” said Stones.

The tigers were reportedly going to a buyer in Mexico.

“My Lord, it’s unbelievable. Drugs are only part of it. There was elephant got smuggled into Mexico a few years ago. Right down here,” said Stone.

Authorities say that it’s impossible to know the size of the black market, but big cats hold special appeal as a status symbols for some.

And it’s not just tigers say officials. Lions and elephants are also in demand say authorities.

A patchwork of federal agencies oversees thousands of captive tigers in this country.

A report released by the World Wildlife Fund called U.S. regulations lax.

They say that there are so many tigers in Texas that zoos and sanctuaries are struggling to keep up with the cost of caring for the seized or unwanted animals.

The Gladys Porter Zoo now has 12 tigers and there’s a search for a sanctuary for the big cats.

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