ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For more than two weeks, the Bengal tiger found by Albuquerque Police (APD) has been preparing for a move to a new home. Ever since the big cat was found, there has been an ongoing investigation into who brought the exotic animal into the area.

The tiger cub now goes by Duke. After police found him in a trailer park near the fairgrounds, he was brought to the zoo to be taken care of. However, it’s still unclear who brought the cub to Albuquerque or how they brought him here. 

Smuggling exotic animals into the United States from places like Mexico isn’t a new phenomenon. Police officers in Albuquerque have run into this problem many times before. 

Sarah Sirica is a veterinarian at the New Mexico Wildlife Center. She said, “It’s obviously a big concern; we’re worried about this animal’s welfare. Where did it come from? How long has it been housed there? Has it been taken care of well?”

Since it’s still an ongoing investigation, APD and New Mexico Game and Fish can’t share details on where it could have come from and if anyone is being charged.

Laura Siegel works as a wildlife rehabilitator at the New Mexico Wildlife Center.

“They still have wild instincts. They’re still often very large animals, and even when they’re not, they’re still a species that still have wild instincts,” explained Siegel. 

Duke the tiger cub has been staying at the city’s zoo until he’s transferred to a new home.

So how did he get here? No one’s saying yet.

Recent news reports have described a thriving black market in Mexico. In 2017, an 18-year-old was caught crossing into the U.S. with a tiger cub he purchased on the streets of Tijuana for 300 dollars.

“Many of these species are species of high conservation concern, especially with tigers,” said Sirica. Investigators found a sales receipt and paperwork showing that the tiger was flown from Mexico City to Tijuana.

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Duke is currently in a 30-day quarantine at a clinic where staff is making sure he’s not carrying any diseases or viruses. Zoo officials said they may have a new home lined up for Duke, but don’t want to release any details until the move is complete for the safety and security of the tiger and the staff who will be traveling with him.