A couple driving in the state of Querétaro was pulled over and arrested even before a surprising discovery — a tiger cub in the trunk of their vehicle.
The incident unfolded on Tuesday when a man later identified as Manuel N. was pulled over on a highway just outside the city of Querétaro for committing a minor traffic violation, according to the region’s Department of Public Safety (SSP).
Upon being stopped and questioned, the man and his female passenger acted “aggressively” toward the officers and tried to flee the scene, SSP said, which led to their immediate arrests.
Then, when searching the vehicle, police officers found the baby feline as well as four guns and 98 rounds of ammunition in the trunk of the car. The cub was wedged in between suitcases and bags.
🔴#VIDEO| Derivado de las estrategias de operatividad y prevención de la Policía de El Marqués, se logró la detención de dos personas que trasladaban un tigre cachorro, cuatro armas de fuego y 98 cartuchos útiles. Los detenidos ya fueron puestos a disposición de la FGR. pic.twitter.com/g1TXYdBPQJ
— SSPyTM El Marqués (@SSPyTMElMarques) December 27, 2022
The suspects and the weaponry were handed over to the Attorney General’s Office (FGR), which is investigating. Officials said the cub is being cared for by experts who would aim to return it to “its natural habitat,” though the meaning of that statement was not clear.
Though it is not illegal to own an exotic animal in Mexico, the owner must be able to prove it came from a certified dealer and was born in captivity. However, trafficking of wildlife is illegal and almost always constitutes a crime.
Drug traffickers often keep exotic animals as pets and the smuggling of big cats is a lucrative business. Shelters and reserves in Mexico often provide homes for seized animals, although sometimes those places get into hot water, too.
The incident in question occurred near the municipality of El Marqués, a few miles outside of central Querétaro de Santiago on the highway that goes to the capital city’s international airport.
This isn’t the first time a tiger has been captured by police in Mexico. In 2020, an adult Bengal tiger was captured on the streets of Tlaquepaque, Jalisco. Its owner, who was chasing it with a lasso, had the correct paperwork, but police argued he had failed to comply with safety regulations.
This latest tiger-in-the-trunk incident might lead some to recall Esso’s ad campaign in the 1960s and ’70s: “Put a tiger in your tank.”