Greece zoo fights to save white tiger cub found in garbage

Greece zoo fights to save white tiger cub found in garbage
The white tiger cub is being prepared for a CT scan at a clinic in Athens, Greece, March 15, 2023, credit: Reuters/Stelios Misinas

Veterinarians in Greece are trying to save a white tiger cub found in a rubbish bin near an Athens zoo. The animal is believed to be a victim of the illegal wildlife trade.

The three-month-old tiger cub was found on February 28 under a garbage bin in the Attica Zoological Park parking lot. “She was in a bad state, was dirty, was a bit afraid and looked thin and dehydrated,” zoo founder Jean-Jacques Lesueur told news agency Reuters.

The zoo’s security camera videos showed a vehicle driving to the bins before midnight the previous night. Lesueur said authorities were trying to trace the license plates to find out who dumped the white tiger cub.

The tiger cub looked really bad. “When I first saw the cub, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing in front of me. I honestly couldn’t believe that an animal was in such a state. I have read many reports of victims of the illegal wildlife trade, but until you see it in front of you, you cannot grasp the severity of the health issues. It’s very sad,” zoo veterinarian Noi Psaroudaki said.

“X-rays revealed that she was suffering from metabolic bone disease, which is a very common and serious problem affecting animals in the illegal wildlife trade. She was probably fed an improper diet, and she is severely deficient in vitamins and minerals, making her bones extremely fragile,” Psaroudaki said, adding that a metal pin had been placed in one of her back legs.

Lesueur said if the tiger survives, she must be moved to a sanctuary, as the zoo has no other animals like her. International animal welfare organisations have already contacted the zoo to help.

The illegal wildlife trade is a billion-euro business in Europe, according to Europol, the law enforcement agency of the European Union. Asia and Africa are popular origins of endangered exotic animals being sold to buyers in Europe.

“This is unethical because the recipients of such animals are also participants in this illegal trade. They know they are not allowed to have such an animal, but they still do it, so as long as there are buyers, there will be sellers,” Lesueur said.


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