Cat's out of the bag Drugged cub hidden in suitcase
Authorities at Bangkok's international airport found a tiger cub that had been drugged and hidden alongside a stuffed toy tiger in the suitcase of a woman flying from Thailand to Iran, an official and a wildlife protection group said yesterday.
The woman, a Thai national, had checked in for her flight and her overweight bag was sent for an X-ray, which showed what appeared to be a live animal inside, according to Traffic, a wildlife trade monitoring group.
She was arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport before boarding her flight on Sunday. The cub, estimated to be about three months old, was sent to a wildlife centre in Bangkok.
"The cub appeared exhausted, dehydrated and couldn't walk, so we had to give him oxygen, water and lactation," said Chaiyaporn Chareesaeng, head of the Wildlife Health Unit at the Department of National Parks' Wildlife and Plant Conservation Centre. "We have monitored him closely. As of today, he looks better."
A DNA test was expected to provide details about its origin, said Mr Chareesaeng.
"I was a bit shocked because an animal isn't supposed to be treated like this," said Nirath Nipanant, chief of the airport's wildlife checkpoint.
"Had the animal passed the oversize baggage check and gone through four to five hours of travel, its chances of survival would have been slim."
The woman, identified as Piyawan Palasarn (31), faces up to four years in prison and a 40,000 baht (€1,010) fine for two wildlife smuggling-related charges, police said.
She denied the luggage with the cub belonged to her and said another passenger asked her to carry it for them.
The cub could have fetched about 100,000 baht (€2,400) on the black market in Iran.