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Mexican Park Rescues Felines from Traffickers

Mexican Park Rescues Felines from Traffickers

Saturday, 18 June, 2022 - 07:45
Bengal tiger cubs play at the zoo in Havana, Cuba, October 27, 2021. (Reuters)

Frida, the Bengal tiger, was found chained up a few years ago. Now, she is living in better circumstances in a park sheltering hundreds of other exotic creatures taken from misguided Mexican "pet" owners -- including showy drug traffickers.


In 2018, the tiger was found chained up in a restaurant parking lot in Mexico City, dirty, and emaciated. Now, her owners say she is a popular attraction, reported Agence France Press (AFP).


Since being rescued, Frida lives happily at the Reino Animal, a 53-hektar park located near the city of Teotihuacan known for its pre-Columbian antiquities.


Park employee Agustin Bastida said: "Frida was brought in with a broken hip, she could not walk, it was very sad, very sad."


"People buy these animals to keep them as pets, but they are not pets. They have to be in the wild or in open spaces," he added.


In her new environment, the tigress can now wander freely. Bastida noted that Frida has completely healed, urging for "banning people from buying such rare animals because they are not pets."


Mexico is well known for its biological diversity, but it’s also a hub for rare animal traders and drug traffickers.


"There are many exotic birds, such as macaws or parrots, reptiles, many primates and big cats; it is what we have most detected with traffickers," Lucio Garcia Gil, head of the PROFEPA environmental crimes office for Mexico City, told AFP.


According to authorities, some 150 to 200 exotic animals are seized in Mexico City every year, including felines (four in 2022 so far).


A tiger or lion sells for between $1,000 and $5,000 on the Mexican black market.


Mexican law allows people to legally purchase exotic animals from registered dealers, however, illegal possession is punishable by up to nine years in prison or a fine of up to $15,000.


Only wealthy people can afford trafficking wild animals, which can eat as much as 30 kilograms of meat per day, says the park manager who blames "organized crime " for the problem.


According to local media, some of the worst culprits are drug lords such as Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who gifted his daughters a pet monkey called "Boots" before he was arrested in 2014. Searching for Boots had helped authorities track Guzman, and today, he is serving a life sentence in a US jail.


According to the UN Environment Program, global wildlife trafficking generates as much as $7-23 billion per year, and it is the seventh-most lucrative illicit business in the world.


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