Three tiger cubs destined for a zoo were rescued after they were left in a unmarked crate in an airport in Beirut for nearly a week.
According to CBC News, three 4-month-old Siberian tiger cubs were headed to a zoo in war-torn Syria, when they were left in the Beirut airport in an unmarked, maggot-infested wooden crate. The cubs were unable to stand for almost a week, during which they were packed in a 16-inch-tall crate. While locked in the crate, the cubs were forced to urinate and defecate on each other, according to the Telegraph.
The cubs were rescued by a Lebanese animal rights group, Animals Lebanon, after the group asked a judge to release the cubs into their care when they learned of the cubs’ condition. The judge quickly issued an order which demanded that the cubs be released from the airport, into the group’s care, citing concerns about the health and wellbeing of the tiger cubs.
“Nothing indicated that the box contained tigers or even live animals, and there were no details of a shipper or receiver,” the group said.
Animals Lebanon’s Executive Director, Jason Mier, said of the rescue, “Once we finally got them out of the box, the box had dozens and dozens of maggots crawling around in it. There were maggots all over the back thighs of the animals and around their anus.”
The tigers were being sent to a zoo in Syria from a zoo in Myklolaev, Ukraine. The zoo’s director, Volodymyr Topchiy, said that the deal made to send the tiger cubs abroad was legal.
“They passed customs clearance, we have customs declarations,” Topchiy told ABC, according to the Telegraph. The executive director said that the tigers were being exchanged for wildcats.
Topchiy told ABC that the tigers’ transfer to Syria was halted due to issues with paperwork and bureaucracy. He said, “Authorities wanted to confiscate (the cubs,” and added, “On the transportation boxes there were no ‘up’ or ‘down’ signs.”
Mier says, however, that the crate arrived at the Beirut airport with no documents or markings, and that it did not meet regulations for transporting endangered species, despite the fact that Siberian tigers are endangered.
Since being rescued by Animals Lebanon, the tiger cubs have been receiving veterinary treatment and have space to play.
“Their paw pads were raw and red from being covered in urine, as were their back legs and thighs,” Animals Lebanon wrote in a statement. “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 micro-chipped.”